An infection with an extremely rare virus that affects the nervous system is making its way through the population and infecting more people, according to a study.
The strain, dubbed “Nephthalymic” and discovered in January, is causing “significant and pervasive psychological harm” to those infected and their families, according a new study from the University of Wisconsin.
Researchers from the university and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported on the virus in recent months, citing it as a cause of a rare neurological disorder called prion disease in people and for its possible link to other neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
The study found the virus caused at least 13 deaths and more than 700 neurological cases in the US in the last six months, but the researchers did not attribute the increase in cases to the pandemic.
The study authors suggested the increase may be linked to the widespread use of antimalarial drugs that suppress the immune system.
Researchers found the number of cases increased by nearly half, from 896 in January to 3,923 in February, with most of the increases attributed to people who were taking anti-malarial drugs.
The researchers say that in addition to the increased numbers, people who have not been infected with the virus are also more likely to have used antimalaria drugs and other potentially harmful drugs.
“The increase in reported cases is a significant and pervasive threat to public health,” the researchers wrote.
The new report comes on the heels of a February study that found the epidemic was already spreading to other countries and the world, with cases reported in more than 90 countries, and that about 80% of cases were occurring in the United States.
The report also noted that people with the new strain of the virus have shown the potential to be very aggressive and possess an ability to infect others, and have been known to cause severe psychological damage.
It was not immediately clear how many of the new cases were linked to New York City’s PATH train system, which is used by thousands of people daily.