Now, a danger of ‘Chapare’ virus after coronavirus

Washington (USA) – The United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that a deadly virus can now also be transmitted human-to-human. The virus, called Chapare, causes haemorrhagic fever (CHHF) like Ebola. This comes at a time when healthcare workers and scientists are already battling the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Experts suggest even in case of an outbreak, Chapare virus is unlikely to cause a pandemic on the scale of COVID-19. Yet, there are reasons to be alarmed about a potential outbreak.

What is the Chapare virus?

According to the CDC, the Chapare virus causes a viral Chapare hemorrhagic fever (CHHF). The virus is in the areanavirus family. Arenaviruses usually spread to humans through direct contact with infected rodents or indirectly through the urine or faeces of infected rodents.

So far, there have been two documented outbreaks of CHHF. The first incident occurred in 2003 in Bolivia’s Chapare province that led to one death. The second outbreak occurred was reported in the country’s Caranavi province last year. This had resulted in five confirmed cases, including three were fatalities.

Scientists have said in 2019, two patients transmitted the virus to three healthcare workers in Bolivia’s de facto capital, La Paz.

However, experts suggest there’s no proof of rodents being the source of such outbreaks. An infected person can spread the disease to others through contact with the patient’s body fluids, or during healthcare procedures that can aerosolise the infected person’s body fluids (such as saliva, urine, semen and respiratory secretions), according to CDC.

The health authority has noted that more research is needed to understand how the virus spreads and causes illness as there have been very few documented cases of Chapare in humans so far. That is also the reason why very little information is available about its symptoms and incubation period.

What are the Symptoms of Chapare virus?

The time between initial exposure and the development of symptoms varies from 4 to 21 days for arenaviruses.

Fever, headache, joint and muscle pain, pain behind the eyes, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, bleeding gums, rash and irritability were the symptoms noticed during the first two outbreaks. As is the case with other viral hemorrhagic fevers, these symptoms usually occur before later stage hemorrhagic signs (bleeding).

Is there a treatment for Chapare virus ?

Currently, no treatment is available for CHHF. Thus, supportive therapy such as maintenance of hydration, management of shock (for example, fluid resuscitation, administration of vasopressin stocks), sedation, pain relief and transfusions (when necessary), is important for recovery.

How can you prevent Chapare virus ?

According to the CDC, the best way to prevent the spread of the Chapare virus is to avoid contact with rodents. Sealing holes and gaps in homes and other buildings surrounding can help prevent or minimize rodent infestation. Clean up any food that may be accessible to rodents. People should avoid areas where they see signs of rodent infestation (droppings, etc.).