21 dead in Japan from virus spread by mites

By Casey Baseel

Authorities in Japan are warning people about deadly poisonous mites. The cause for concern is the SFTS virus.

SFTS is an abbreviation for severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, and it’s every bit as gruesome as its name implies. Aside from the obvious fever, symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea, and in more advanced cases lowered white blood cell and platelet counts, organ failure, and even death.

The majority of SFTS cases so far have been in China, which is also where researchers first isolated the virus in 2009. A recent outbreak has occurred in west Japan, however, with 53 people reported as having been infected so far, with 21 losing their lives to the syndrome’s effects.

The vector through which the contamination is spreading has been reported to be tick bites. While all of the confirmed SFTS instances have been in west Japan, the Infectious Disease Surveillance Center says the type of mite acting as carrier can be found in 23 prefectures, from Hokkaido in the north to the island of Kyushu in the south.

Alarmingly, there is currently no effective vaccine for the SFTS virus, and the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare is encouraging that people take the precaution of not entering grassy or wooded areas with excessively exposed patches of skin.

The ministry stresses that caution is particularly necessary from now until spring, giving us yet one more reason to hate winter.

Sources: Yahoo! Japan, TV Asahi

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Sure it's mites? Some of the symptoms sounds bit like like exposure to radiation as well.

-10 ( +1 / -11 )

So which is it, JT? A tick borne disease or mites?

In any case, I'll add this to encephalitis and Lyme disease as things to look out for when I'm around livestock.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Sure it's mites? Some of the symptoms sounds bit like like exposure to radiation as well.

Except that the outbreak that killed the 21 people happened in Kansai, so that wouldn't make any sense at all?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Does anyone have a list of the 23 prefectures? I'd like to know if this is going to ruin my plans for mountain climbing this year.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is Chinese biological warfare! This plus Chinese pollution will force Japan to evaluate some of their health policies.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

This is from madani, which are ticks, not mites.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Thats one MIGHTY MITE!!

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Just to clear up the mite/tick confusion:

Ticks are small arachnids in the order Parasitiformes . Along with mites, they constitute the subclass Acarina.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Also "deadly poisonous mites" is inaccurate and sensationalistic, since we're talking about a virus, not mite venom.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Was the mite named? or did I miss that bit of info...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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