Kunjin Virus Facts

Kunjin Virus Facts
Kunjin virus is a subtype of the West Nile Virus, first isolated from mosquitos in 1960 in Australia. Kunjin virus is zoonotic which means it is transmitted to humans through infected mosquitos. The name 'Kunjin' is derived from the Aboriginals living in the region of Kowanyama, northern Queensland, where the virus was first isolated. The Kunjin virus is of the genus Flavivirus, and the family Flaviviridae. Because it is so similar to West Nile it was reclassified as a subtype of West Nile virus in 1999. The Kunjin virus is considered to be endemic to Oceania, a region of islands in the central Pacific Ocean.
Interesting Kunjin Virus Facts:
Human infection with Kunjin virus is considered to be rare. When it does occur it most often appears in regions of northern Australia.
Kunjin virus is spread to humans via mosquitos from infected birds and mammals.
Symptoms if Kunjin virus infection can include fever, feeling unwell, headaches, muscle aches, rash, swollen lymph nodes, fatigue, and aching and swollen joints.
In some cases when Kunjin virus infection is severe, an infected person may develop encephalitis, which is swelling of the brain.
An individual that develops encephalitis may have symptoms such as fever, headaches, a stiff neck, confusion and irritability, feeling drowsy, and even seizures as the swelling increases.
In order to diagnose a case of Kunjin virus infection in a human a blood test can be done. It is also possible to test the cerebrospinal fluid in the spinal cord and brain for the presence of the virus.
The incubation period from infection from a mosquito bite to the onset of symptoms can range from 2 to 6 days and can last as long as 14 days.
No cases of human-to-human infection have been reported.
Once a person has been infected with the Kunjin virus it is believed that they have immunity for life.
There is no vaccine to prevent Kunjin virus in humans and there is no specific treatment once an infection occurs.
The best way to prevent Kunjin virus infection is to avoid being bitten by mosquitos in regions where the Kunjin virus is known to exist.
The mosquito most responsible for transmitting the Kunjin virus to humans is the Culex annulirostris.
The nankeen night heron is a major host of the Kunjin virus. Horses are also reservoir hosts for the Kunjin virus.
Kunjin virus is commonly found in wetlands and rivers in Australia.
Prevention of the spread of Kunjin virus once identified can include the use of insecticides in water bodies and reducing standing water sources where mosquitos breed.
Mosquitos in South East Asia are also known to carry the Kunjin virus but it has not been identified in humans in this region.
In 2005 Kunjin virus particles were used in an experiment in which they were injected into mice to deliver a gene. This gene was delivered into the mice's immune system to target cancer cells. It is believed that this research may eventually lead to a vaccine for HIV and cancer.

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