China battles another virus: Seven dead, 60 infected

A new type of virus, which is likely to be passed to be infected after bite by ticks, is emerging in China, with more than 60 people infected and killed at least seven.
August 06, 2020 | 14:33
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Super mosquito with 20-times bigger body compared with common ones (Photo: GMW)

New type of tick-borne virus detected in China

While the world is still fighting COVID-19 - a pandemic that emerged out of Wuhan in China, another shocking discovery of a new virus is spreading alarm among medical authorities.

As per the Chinese daily 'Global Times', a new type of virus, which is likely to be passed through tick-bites, is emerging in China. The as-yet unheard-of virus has already killed at least seven people and more than 60 people have been infected, says the report.

According to Global Times, more than 37 people in East China's Jiangsu Province have contracted with the virus - identified as Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Bunyavirus or SFTSV in the first half of the year, and later 23 people was found infected in East China's Anhui Province.

SFTS Virus is not a new virus. China has isolated pathogen of the virus in 2011, and it belongs to the Bunyavirus category. Virologists believe that the infection may have been passed on to humans by ticks and that the virus can be transmitted between humans.

Global Times described a case study of Wang, a woman in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu who suffered from the virus showing onset of symptoms such like fever, coughing and doctors found decline of leukocyte, blood platelet inside of her body.

After a month of treatment, Wang was discharged from hospital. But the virus has reported at least seven killed in Anhui and East China's Zhejiang Province.

Sheng Jifang, a doctor from the first affiliated hospital under Zhejiang University said that the possibility of human to human transmission could not be excluded; patients can pass the virus to other via blood or mucous.

Doctors warned that tick bites is the major transmission route, as long as people remain cautious, there's no need to over panic over such virus contagion.

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Genotypes of SFTSV virus (Photo: Times of India)

Scientific concerns on the danger of new virus

However, a previous US study has stated that in case of an unmonitored outbreak, this virus may lead to an epidemic of irreversible status in both humans and animals.

Virologists at the US health body - the NCBI - National Center for Biotechnology Information have been studying this particular Chinese origin virus for a few years now. This is what they have to say:

"Over the past ten years, there has been a marked increase in cases of severe fever and thrombocytopenia syndrome in East Asia. This tick-borne hemorrhagic fever presents along with clinical signs including high fever and leukopenia."

"In addition to humans, the virus has also been detected with shared genetic homology in farm animals including goats, cattle, horses, and pigs. Furthermore, several genotypes of severe fever and thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV) are currently co-circulating between humans and animals."

"In China, where the virus was first detected in rural areas in 2009, the SFTSV mortality rate has been reported to be as 6% and higher than 30%, especially in immunocompromised patients. Moreover, this virus has been isolated in neighbouring countries including Japan and South Korea where the fatality rates in 2015 were more than 30% in both countries."

The report stated that SFTSV poses an imminent threat to public health due to its wide range of animal hosts and the ability to cause severe infections in humans, especially in the elderly. Continuous monitoring for and molecular detection of this virus is important for the correct diagnosis of SFTSV infection.

Although there have been several studies focused on the pathogenesis and transmission of this virus, there is currently no vaccine available to prevent the spread of SFTSV. Initial studies indicate a higher mortality rate in patients 50 years and above suggesting susceptibility to SFTS infection may vary depending on several risk factors including patient age and immune status, said NCBI.

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