The National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NIID) said it has confirmed the first instance of human-to-human transmission of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) in Japan.

The viral infection, transmitted by ticks, was passed from a patient to their attending physician.

According to the NIID, the doctor, a man in his 20s, was attending to a patient in his 90s who had been diagnosed with SFTS after turning up at the emergency room last April due to deteriorating health. The doctor carried out various procedures on the patient who later died, including removing his catheter post-mortem. While the doctor wore a mask and gloves during the procedure, he reportedly did not wear goggles.

Approximately nine days following the patient's death, the doctor developed symptoms of fever and headache, and was diagnosed with SFTS upon medical examination.

Genetic analysis of both the doctor's and the patient's viral strains revealed identical sequences, confirming human-to-human transmission.

While cases of human-to-human transmission of SFTS have been previously documented in China and South Korea, this marks the first such instance in Japan.

In response, the NIID has reminded medical personnel the importance of adhering to thorough infection-control measures, including the use of face shields to protect against potential blood splatter from patients.

Translated by The Japan Times