Explained: What is the tick-borne virus spreading in China?

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News: A new infectious disease called Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome(SFTS) caused by a tick-borne virus has killed seven people and infected 60 others in China.

Facts:

  • SFTS virus: Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV) belongs to the Bunyavirus family and is transmitted to humans through tick bites.
  • Origin: The virus was first identified by a team of researchers in China in 2009.
  • Symptoms: High fever, chills, loss of appetite, gastrointestinal symptoms, neurological abnormalities, thrombocytopenia (extremely low levels of platelets), leukocytopenia (low levels of white blood cells) so on.
  • Risk Factor: The risk factors observed in more serious cases include multi-organ failure, hemorrhagic manifestation and the appearance of central nervous system(CNS) symptoms.
  • Treatment: While a vaccine to treat the disease is yet to be successfully developed, the antiviral drug Ribavirin is known to be effective in treating the illness.
  • Concerns: Due to current case fatality rate of between 16 and 30%, the virus has been listed among the top 10 priority diseases Blueprint by the World Health Organisation(WHO).