Tick-borne SFTS virus re-emerges in China

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60 people have been infected by a new disease, caused by a tick-borne virus, and 7 people have been killed so far, Chinese media reported on Wednesday. It also warned about its possibility of human-to-human transmission.borne

More than 37 people in East China’s Jiangsu Province contracted with the Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus (SFTSV) in the first half of the year. Later, 23 people were found to be infected in East China’s Anhui province, state-run Global Times quoted media reports.

At least seven people have died in Anhui and East China’s Zhejiang province due to the virus, the report said.

SFTS Virus is not a new virus. It is a tick-borne virus in the Bunyaviridae family and was confirmed in China in 2009 and then retrospectively reported in South Korea in 2012 and in western Japan in 2013.

Human SFTSV infections have a high case fatality rate (initial rate of 30%). Since its discovery, the number of SFTSV cases has increased significantly, with a current case fatality rate of approximately 10–16%, according to the China Information System for Disease Control and Prevention.

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How do SFTSV infections occur?

Most SFTSV infections occur through bites from Haemaphysalis longicornis ticks (Asian tick), although transmission can also occur through close contact with an infected patient.

Symptoms of SFTS Virus

The clinical symptoms of SFTS include fever, thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), leukocytopenia (low WBC count), gastrointestinal symptoms, and various other symptoms, including muscular symptoms, neurological abnormalities, and coagulopathy. Patients with severe cases of SFTS Virus can suffer from multi-organ failure.

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SFTS prevention and vaccine

There is still no specific vaccine for SFTSV infection currently. However, to avoid contracting the infection, people are advised not to go into jungles and bushes, as ticks are commonly found in those areas.

These precautions should be strictly followed during the summer season, as ticks breed actively during that time.