Chapare virus: how it is transmitted and what are the symptoms

Because there are very few recorded cases of the Chapare virus in humans, more research is needed to understand how it spreads and causes illness in people. Crédito: Shutterstock

With the planet besieged by the coronavirus pandemic another alarm went off due to the outbreak in Bolivia of new Chapare virus, which causes a fviral hemorrhagic fever that can lead to the death of the patient.

The Chapare is part of the arenavirus that, generally, are transmitted to people through close contact with infected rodents or indirectly with the urine or feces of these animals. As there are few recorded cases of the virus in humans, more research is needed to understand how it spreads and makes people sick.

According to United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)there have been two outbreaks of this virus so far. The first was a fatal case and occurred in 2003 in the province of Chapare, Bolivia. The second outbreak was documented in 2019 in the Bolivian province of Caranavi and resulted in five confirmed cases, three of which were fatal.

Chapare virus: how it is transmitted

While the CDCs state that the rodent reservoir for Chapare virus is unknown, similar arenaviruses are typically transmitted by direct or indirect contact with:

  • By direct or indirect contact: with the saliva, urine and droppings of infected rodents.
  • By direct contact: bites and scratches from infected rodents.
  • By indirect contact: breathing in the virus when it is stirred in the air or ingesting food contaminated with urine, saliva, or infected rodent droppings.

When a person is infected, they can transmit the Chapare virus to other people through contact with the patient’s body fluids. It can also spread during health care procedures that can spray particles from the infected person’s body fluids, such as during chest compressions, CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), and intubation.

Chapare virus: what are the symptoms

Go sIntomas presented by infected Chapare patients are similar to those of other South American hemorrhagic fevers, such as Argentine hemorrhagic fever (ICA) or Bolivian hemorrhagic fever (FHB).

Also due to the low number of cases, information is limited on the symptoms of this disease and the incubation period which, according to the CDCs, the time between initial exposure and development of symptoms for arenaviruses ranges from 4 to 21 days.

According to the records of the first and second outbreaks, the symptoms of Chapare from the first included some or all of the following:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Stomach ache
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Bleeding gums
  • Eruption
  • Irritability



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