For the first time, Japanese researchers have found and identified a tick as carrying the virus that causes severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) that has so far caused 8 deaths in the country since the summer of 2012. Fifteen people have been infected across 10 prefectures ever since the virus was reported in the country in January 2013.
The tick was discovered in a woman in her 60s from a national medical center in Iwakuni city, western Japan. She was hospitalized in early April and had high fever and slipped in and out of consciousness. She also complained that she found it hard to breathe and was once confined to the intensive-care unit. Her doctors found a 3 millimeter tick on her arm and the researchers at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases confirmed that it carried the virus. The tick is the kind that preys on animals in the wild.
The virus was first discovered in China back in 2009 but the Health Ministry confirmed that the strain found in the infected patients has genetic origins in Japan. The symptoms for STFS usually develop within two weeks of the initial stage of infection. No vaccine is available at this time but the discovery of the tick might lead to one being developed in the near future.
[ via NHK ]