The Japanese health ministry confirmed on Wednesday that the death of an adult in Yamaguchi Prefecture last fall was related to a new viral infection often related to mites. Known as severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, the infection was first discovered in China in 2009, and the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare says it has a 12% fatality rate. They add that this is the nation’s first death in relation to the virus.
Investigators say the unnamed victim in Yamaguchi had no records of recent travel to overseas locations, and health officials say there were no traces of bites from a mite. The viral infection has most often been seen as being transmitted by mites, which are similar to a tick. However, the syndrome can also be spread via contact with an infected person’s blood or other bodily fluids.
Symptoms can include nausea, depletion of blood platelets, a decrease in appetite, and headaches, says the health ministry. At this time, there is no vaccine available to prevent the infection. Officials say they did perform genetic tests on the virus that killed the Japanese national and found that it did not come from China, but rather originated in Japan.
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