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Tick-borne virus re-emerges in China: 7 dead, 60 infected in East China

The SFTS Virus was first detected in 2009, China had isolated pathogen of the virus in 2011.

Aug 6, 2020 16:44 IST
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Tick-borne SFTS virus has re-emerged in China, killing around 7 people and infecting around 60 others. This was reported on August 5, 2020. 

With the virus infecting several people, it has raised warning of the possibility of its human-to-human transmission. 

Over 37 people in East China's Jiangsu Province reportedly contracted the SFTS Virus in the first half of 2020. Around 23 more people were found to be infected by the same virus later in East China’s Anhui province. 

What is the SFTS Virus?

The SFTS Virus is tick-borne but it is not a new virus. The virus was first detected in 2009 and China had isolated pathogen of the virus in 2011. The virus belongs to the Bunyavirus category. It causes severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS).

Can the virus infect humans?

The virus is known to infect mammalian hosts including cats, mice, hedgehogs, weasels, brushtail possums and yak. It is not clear whether the virus can be transmitted by blood-sucking arthropods. The evidence till now shows that human appear to be accidental hosts of the virus.

Is the virus infectious?

Yes, while the major transmission route is through tick bites, the infection can also be transmitted from person to person through contact with mucus of the infected person or blood. 

What are the symptoms of the virus?

The virus symptoms that have surfaced include fever, cough, vomiting, diarrhea, low platelet count, multiple organ failure and elevated liver enzyme levels. A woman who suffered from the virus in Nanjing showed onset of such symptoms including fever, coughing. Doctors even found a decline of leukocyte, blood platelet inside of her body. She was discharged from the hospital after a month of treatment. 

How many people have died from the virus?

As per reports, at least seven people have died in East China’s Anhui and East Zhejiang province due to the virus.

What is the fatality rate of the virus?

The SFTS has a fatality rate of 12 percent and as high as 30 percent in some areas. 

Background 

The SFTS virus is an emerging infectious disease that was first detected in the northeast and central China. Few cases of the virus were also discovered in Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and Taiwan. 

According to the virologists, the same virus was found in Japan and South Korea in 2015 where the mortality rate was found to be more than 30% in both countries.

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