April 23, 2024

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First Case of Human-to-Human Transmission of Tick-Borne Illness in Japan

First Case of Human-to-Human Transmission of Tick-Borne Illness in Japan: Woman Dies After Being Bitten by Previously Fed Cat



First Case of Human-to-Human Transmission of Tick-Borne Illness in Japan: Woman Dies After Being Bitten by Previously Fed Cat

The Japan National Institute of Infectious Diseases announced on the 19th that a case of person-to-person transmission of the virus infection disease “Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS)” transmitted by ticks has been confirmed for the first time in Japan, as reported by Yomiuri Shimbun Online.

SFTS is a disease that many people think is only transmitted when bitten by a tick carrying the SFTS virus (SFTSV) while in the wild.

However, when it was revealed that SFTS had been transmitted from person to person for the first time in Japan, it sent shockwaves. Let’s take a closer look at the situation.

First Case of Human-to-Human Transmission of Tick-Borne Illness in Japan: Woman Dies After Being Bitten by Previously Fed Cat

screenshot from youtube


Medical professional infected with SFTS

Patient-to-physician “human-to-human infection” confirmed for the first time in Japan – National Institute of Infectious Diseases warns of tick-borne illness SFTS|TBS NEWS DIG

According to Yomiuri Shimbun Online, a male physician in his 20s was in charge of a male patient in his 90s who was diagnosed with SFTS and performed procedures such as removing the IV drip after his death. Nine days later, he developed symptoms such as a fever of 38 degrees Celsius, and was diagnosed with SFTS.

SFTS infection is believed to be caused by direct contact with a patient’s blood or secretions. People who are infected in this way are limited to healthcare workers who have close and direct contact with SFTS patients and their families.

Case of SFTS infection from a pet

SFTS is an infectious disease caused by SFTSV, and it is commonly thought that humans only become infected with SFTSV when bitten by a tick carrying the virus.

However, there have been cases in Japan where people have contracted SFTS from being bitten by pets rather than ticks. It has been generally believed that animals infected with SFTSV are asymptomatic, but in Japan, there have been cases where cheetahs, dogs, and cats have become infected with SFTSV and developed symptoms.

Among them, a woman in her 50s who was bitten by a cat died from SFTS.

Woman dies after being bitten by cat

According to the announcement by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases, the woman who died after being bitten by a cat was a naturally healthy individual. She developed symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, and vomiting, and her condition worsened with peripheral blood tests showing leukopenia and thrombocytopenia before she died.

Based on the findings of the pathological autopsy, SFTS was suspected, and detailed tests revealed that SFTS was the cause, believed to have been transmitted from the cat.

What should people who own dogs or cats do?

Ticks can also carry pathogens that cause infectious diseases in animals such as dogs and cats, so in order to protect the health of pets, make sure they are not bitten by ticks. Please pay attention to the following:

・Do not let cats go outside

・If dogs or cats are outside, properly remove ticks

There are tick control products for pets, so consult your veterinarian. Be careful as over-the-counter tick control products may not be effective.

・Check for ticks on your body when dogs or cats are outside

Ticks are often found on the face, ears, and limbs. Combing with a fine-toothed comb can also be effective.

・If a tick is embedded (firmly attached), go to an animal hospital

It is advisable for the owner to have it removed by a veterinarian rather than trying to remove it forcibly.

Summary

“SFTS Case Summary Reported in Infectious Disease Occurrence Trends Survey” from the National Institute of Infectious Diseases website
SFTS is mainly transmitted by being bitten by a tick.

Especially during the active period of ticks from spring to autumn, the risk of being bitten by ticks increases. When entering areas such as grassy areas and bushes where ticks are abundant, please pay attention to the following:

・Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants (tuck the shirt hem into the pants, and the pants hem into socks or wear gaiters)
・Avoid sandals and wear shoes that completely cover your feet
・Wear a hat and gloves
・Wrap a towel or scarf around your neck
・Clothes in bright colors are easier to visually confirm ticks.

・After outdoor activities, take a bath and check for ticks

As shown in the map of Japan above, the estimated infection area for SFTS is in the southern part of Japan. In this epidemic area, there is a risk of dogs and cats developing SFTSV infection.

If you are taking care of stray dogs or cats, be especially careful, as they are at risk of becoming infected with SFTSV and developing SFTS. Avoid direct contact with cats or dogs with unexplained illnesses by wearing gloves, etc., as this will prevent SFTSV infection. Stray dogs or cats with anemia and unable to walk properly may have this disease, so preventive measures are necessary.

First Case of Human-to-Human Transmission of Tick-Borne Illness in Japan: Woman Dies After Being Bitten by Previously Fed Cat

(source:internet, reference only)


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