Tick-borne SFTS virus spreading in China

MANILA, Philippines – As the world continue to fight the COVID-19 outbreak, another potentially contagious viral infection re-emerged in China.

A disease called Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS), caused by a tick-borne virus, has killed 7 and infected at least 60 in China. Virologists warned of possible human-to-human transmission.

Tick-borne SFTS virus

Global Times reported that virus first appeared in April and since then more than 37 people in East China's Jiangsu Province have contracted with the illness and 23 people were found infected in East China's Anhui Province.

SFTS virus (SFTSV) belongs to the bunyavirus family and is transmitted to humans through tick bites.

The virus was identified by a group of Chinese researchers more than a decade ago. The first case was reported between late March and mid-July 2009 in rural areas of Hubei and Henan provinces in Central China.

In 2013, Japan and Korea also reported several cases with deaths.

The major clinical symptoms of SFTS are fever, vomiting, diarrhea, multiple organ failure, thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), leucopenia (low white blood cell count), and elevated liver enzyme levels.

SFTS has fatality rates ranging from 16% to as high as 30%, according to the China Information System for Disease Control and Prevention.

The World Health Organization (WHO) listed SFTS as one of the top 10 priority diseases due to high fatality rate.

— The Summit Express

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