Wed, Nov 20, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan sees first SFTS case

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A tick is pictured at a news conference in Taipei yesterday as the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s Centers for Disease Control announces Taiwan’s first case of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome after a person was bitten by a tick last month.

Photo: CNA

The first case in Taiwan of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS), a tick-borne virus, was confirmed last week in a man in his 70s living in the north of the country, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

The man, who had not recently traveled overseas, but had often visited mountainous areas, sought treatment several times between Oct. 24 and Nov. 2 after experiencing reoccurring fever and vomiting, CDC disease prevention physician Chen Meng-yu (陳孟妤) said.

After having changes in consciousness and a rash, the man was hospitalized on Nov. 3, Chen said.

The hospital suspected dengue fever, but a blood sample sent to the CDC came back negative on Nov. 6, she added.

Disease prevention inspectors examined the case and on Wednesday last week confirmed that the man was infected with SFTS — the first case in Taiwan, Chen said.

The man remains in an intensive care unit, she said.

First confirmed in China in 2009, and subsequently in Japan and South Korea, SFTS is an emerging tick-borne infectious disease caused by a novel Phlebovirus, one of five, in the order Bunyavirales, CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said.

Cases of SFTS increase from May to October and it has a mortality rate of 5 to 15 percent, Lo said, adding that the disease is transmitted by bites from Haemaphysalis longicornis, a tick more likely found in mountainous or hillside areas.

The incubation period is about seven to 14 days and patients might experience redness, swelling, a rash or a blister at the bite site, as well as fever, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, a low platelet count, a low white blood cell count or even multiple organ failure, Lo said.

As there is no antiviral drug for treating SFTS, supportive care is the treatment, he said.

People might worry that dogs or cats might bring a tick into the house, but there are many types of ticks and SFTS is mainly transmitted by H. longicornis, which has not yet been discovered in Taiwan, National Taiwan University College of Public Health associate professor Wang Hsi-chieh (王錫杰) said.

However, SFTS can also be transmitted by the Rhipicephalus microplus, so people who farm or frequently go mountain climbing have a greater risk of exposure, he said, adding that people should wear bright-colored, long-sleeve clothing, socks and insect repellent, but not stay in grasslands or forests for too long a time.

More than 5,300 cases of SFTS were reported in China from 2011 to 2016; 96 cases, including five deaths, have been confirmed this year in Japan — surpassing all the cases in Japan from 2013 to last year — and 223 cases have been confirmed this year in South Korea — surpassing the number there from 2014 to 2016, the centers said.

Since 2013, Taiwan has conducted tests for the SFTS Phlebovirus and its vectors, but all tests returned negative until last week’s case, Lo said.

A task force has been established to investigate the case’s source and SFTS is within a month to be announced as a notifiable communicable disease, he added.

This story has been viewed 2844 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top