A new virus is making its way through China. The SFTS virus is a tick-borne illness that has killed at least seven people and sickened at least 60.
Eastern China affected by new SFTS virus outbreak
The technical name for the virus is severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, which is where the letters “SFTS” come from. The virus was discovered at least as early as 2011 in China, and the first patient in Japan was reported the following year.
News reports indicate that nearly 40 people in Jiangsu Province in eastern China have been infected with the tick-borne SFTS virus. More than 20 others were later found to be infected in Anhui Province in eastern China.
Although the SFTS virus that’s sweeping eastern China isn’t new, it is becoming a significant outbreak. Fears over COVID-19 continue to grip the world, so any news about a new virus in China is enough to cause even more worries.
Tick-borne virus not easily transmittable between humans
The fact that the SFTS virus is tick-borne means that ticks pass it to humans by biting. Despite that, some news reports indicate that the virus can be passed through human-to-human contact.
The SFTS virus causes symptoms like coughing and a fever. Other symptoms include gastrointestinal symptoms, muscular symptoms and neurological problems. Upon further testing of the Chinese patients infected in the latest outbreak, doctors found patients infected with the virus to have lower levels of white blood cells and platelets.
One patient who was infected with the virus was in treatment for a month in the hospital. Further illustrating the seriousness of the SFTS virus, at least seven people in China have died from it in the latest outbreak.
Doctors say that tick bites are the main source of transmission for the virus, which means the best way to avoid catching it is to be vigilant about not being bitten by ticks. Doctors are not overly worried about human-to-human transmission like they are with COVID-19. The main source of transmission between humans is via blood or mucous, which means it isn’t airborne.