Photo Credit Wikipedia Tick Species Associated with SFTS in China
SFTS or Severe Fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome emerged as a diagnosis in China after outbreaks were identified in Hubei and Henan provinces during the spring and summer of 2009. While ticks were suspected as vectors, the pathogen behind this disease was not initially known.
In 2011, the NEJM published a study Fever with Thrombocytopenia Associated with a Novel Bunyavirus in China. STFS has been associated with a 12% mortality rate in China.
To date over three hundred Bunyaviruses have been identified, with rodents often cited as carriers. While not all Bunyaviruses are dangerous to humans (some only infect plants), the Bunyavirus family include such nasties as Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, Hantaviruses, and Rift Valley Fever.
Most are spread via arthropod vectors (ticks, mosquitoes & sand flies), with the exception of Hantaviruses (see Hantaviruses Revisited), which are spread via the feces and urine of rodents.
Just three weeks ago (see SFTS Fatality Reported In Japan) we learned of the first known SFTS case in the country of Japan. Just two weeks later, headlines read Japan Reports Two Additional SFTS Fatalities.
Today, news of a 4th confirmed fatality in Japan, and word that 9 more cases are under investigation. Links to two news report and a Japan Ministry of Health Statement, and then I’ll return with a little more.
A man died in Hiroshima Prefecture last summer after being infected with a tick-borne virus, becoming the fourth known victim of the viral infection in the country, the health ministry said Tuesday
February 20, 2013
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
A newly identified deadly virus probably transmitted by blood-sucking ticks is causing concern after experts confirmed it in Japan only a few years after it first surfaced in China.
From Japan’s Ministry of Health (warning, awkward machine translation ahead).
Recently, "syndrome thrombocytopenia febrile severe (Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome: SFTS)" disease tickborne new response to the fact that cases have been confirmed for the first time in the country, with respect to medical institutions, we have examined the patient similar If you provide information that has been requested through the local government cooperation (Annex 1).
Then out of the case, written by a medical institution, it was a SFTS is confirmed by inspection of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (. suspected domestic infection. died last summer. Hiroshima adult males) one new case Since, in municipalities across the country that I have provided information effect (Annex 2).
Continue to conduct research and gather information about the disease, in the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, we will take appropriate action.
While the sudden identification of 4 fatal cases linked to a recently discovered virus may be a bit disconcerting, it doesn’t necessarily indicate a new threat has emerged on the Japanese landscape.
Often detections of a novel infectious disease come about as the inevitable result of better diagnostic tests that can now identify pathogens that - until recently - were misidentified or missed altogether.
Tickborne diseases are on the rise in the United States and around the world, with Lyme disease alone blamed for 20,000+ infections each year (MMWR Lyme Disease --- United States, 2003—2005).
The CDC lists a number of diseases carried by ticks in the United States, including: Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis , Ehrlichiosis, Lyme disease, Rickettsia parkeri Rickettsiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF), STARI (Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness), Tickborne relapsing fever (TBRF), Tularemia, and 364D Rickettsiosis.
And last year in New Phlebovirus Discovered In Missouri we learned of another emerging virus carried by ticks, dubbed the `Heartland Virus’.
Whether a new and emerging threat, or simply our ability to finally recognize a long-time nemesis, it makes sense to take precautions against ticks and other vector-borne diseases.
This from the Minnesota Department of Health.
Lastly, the CDC offers advice on:
While it is a good idea to take preventive measures against ticks year-round, be extra vigilant in warmer months (April-September) when ticks are most active.