Woman shows signs of lethal tick-borne virus
A day after Korea reported its first confirmed case of a patient in Gangwon who died last August due to a deadly tick-borne virus, the North Chungcheong Provincial Government reported yesterday that a 65-year-old female resident in Chungju, North Chungcheong, showed symptoms similar to those with the fatal virus.
The authorities reported the patient might have contracted the disease through a tick bite while collecting herbs on a local mountain over the weekend.
Soon after coming down from the mountain, the woman, whose identity has been withheld, experienced high fever and muscle aches. She was admitted to a university hospital as her symptoms grew worse, including a decrease in white blood cell counts.
The university hospital reported the woman’s case to the provincial government as her symptoms suggested she might have been infected with SFTS, or severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, transmitted through a tick bite.
The provincial government sent the woman’s blood sample to the National Institute of Health for analysis. The state-run institute is also currently analyzing the blood specimen of a 73-year-old farmer in Jeju who died after showing symptoms similar to those of SFTS.
The disease control center said it is investigating if there are more cases of SFTS infection in the country over the past two years since China reported the deadly tick-borne virus in 2011.
“China learned of the SFTS virus in 2011 .?.?. based on our investigation into the virus so far, we have one confirmed case of SFTS infection of a woman in Gangwon who passed away last August,” said Kim Eun-hee, researcher at the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “We are now looking into cases [that look similar to the case in Gangwon] to find out if more have been infected with the virus.”
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the deadly virus’ fatality rate is around 6 percent, given the data provided by the Chinese government on the number of virus-infected patients and those who have died from it.
Among the total number of 2,047 Chinese patients infected with the SFTS virus, 129 died, showing a 6 percent fatality rate.
The virus has an incubation period of six to 14 days until showing symptoms, including high fever, vomiting, diarrhea and multiple organ failure.
The virus is also known to cause a decrease in the number of white blood cells and blood platelets.
Japan reported its first case of SFTS virus infection in January and has reported eight bite-transmittable virus cases so far. Of the eight victims, five have died.
Officials have not confirmed if the tick-borne virus came from either Japan, China or developed domestically.
By Kang Jin-kyu [email@example.com]