A woman in western Japan died from a tick-borne disease last year after being bitten by a stray cat, the health ministry said. The case is believed to be the world's first human infection of the illness without a direct bite from a tick.

The ministry said Monday that the woman in her 50s was bitten by an apparently ill stray cat when she was trying to take it to a veterinary hospital. She died 10 days later. An examination of samples from the woman's body showed she was infected with severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, known as SFTS.

Given that the woman showed no signs of being bitten by a tick, the ministry concluded that the cat was first infected by a tick bite.