The Japanese Health Ministry stated on Tuesday that a fourth victim has been identified as dying from a tick-borne virus infection. The victim, a man from Hiroshima Prefecture, died in the summer, making him the first among three others who died in the fall. These four instances are said to be the country’s first occurrences of the virus, which, as of now, there is no vaccine for.
Just last week the second and third deaths were revealed, one man from Ehime Prefecture and another other from Miyazaki Prefecture, followed by a January statement that said a woman from Yamaguchi Prefecture was believed to be the first. The infection has been identified as thrombocytopenia syndrome, which causes a severe fever that usually develops within two weeks. Other symptoms can include nausea, depletion of blood platelets, a decrease in appetite, and headaches. The virus was first discovered in China in 2009 and, until now, has been understood as being transmitted by mite or tick bites.
What makes this situation more peculiar is that no bite marks have been found on any of the victim’s bodies, and they have no records of recent overseas travel. In addition, genetic tests have shown that this strain of the virus has originated in Japan, not China. While last week the Health Ministry said it was not necessary to be concerned about the infection’s spread across the country, as the deaths were only identified in re-examined overlooked cases, the National Institute of Infectious Diseases will now look into nine other suspected cases that have been reported throughout Japan.
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