New mite-linked viral infection claimed first fatality in Japan last fall

Kyodo

Japan recorded its first death from a new viral infection last autumn, the health ministry said Wednesday.

The adult victim, a resident of Yamaguchi Prefecture, had no recent record of overseas travel or any apparent trace of a mite bite, even though the new viral infection, called severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, is usually transmitted by such a bite.

The syndrome — characterized by symptoms such as nausea, depletion of blood platelets, a fall in appetite and headaches — can also be transmitted through contact with a victim’s blood and bodily fluids.

To date, there is no effective vaccine to prevent the infection, which was first reported in China around 2009. Its fatality rate is given at an estimated 12 percent in China, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said.

Genetic studies show the virus that killed the Japanese occurred in Japan and did not come from China, the ministry said.