After the death of a woman bitten by a stray cat, the Japan’s health ministry confirmed this week a possible first case of transmission of a mammal to human of a dangerous virus called Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS) initially conveyed by ticks.
She is about 50 years old and died about ten days after a sick cat that she had been helping had bit her. Since then, health authorities have discovered that she has contracted SFTS (Severe Fever Syndrome with Thrombocytopenia) despite the absence of a tick bite on her body.
The woman passed away after suffering severe symptoms and fever caused by the virus.
This infection, which has emerged recently in Asia (Japan, China and South Korea), is diagnosed every year on about 60 patients in the Japanese archipelago alone, with a mortality rate of about 20%, according to the Ministry of Health.
“No reports on animal-to-human transmission cases have been made so far,” a spokesman for the ministry told AFP on Tuesday via BBC.
“It is not yet confirmed that the virus comes from the cat, but it is possible that it is the first world case of this type,” the spokesman added.
No treatment or vaccine is available against SFTS, a condition that manifests as high fever, vomiting and diarrhea, multi-visceral or even behavioral disorders.
“The best way to reduce the risk of infection is to avoid being bitten by ticks,” said the ministry, who asked residents to be vigilant.