First Death from SFTS in South Korea, 2023

Longhorned Ticks. Photo by James Occi, (PhD cand.) LDA Scientific & Professional Advisory Board
Longhorned Ticks. Photo by James Occi, (PhD cand.) LDA Scientific & Professional Advisory Board

Outbreak News Today, 4.8.23, reports that the the first death from Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS), which is caused by the SFTS virus (genus Phlebovirus, family Bunyaviridae), occurred in Haenam-gun, Jeollanam-do this year. It is reported that this disease has a high fatality rate (6%–30% of patients die). Between 2013 and 2022, there have been a total of 1,697 SFTS patients in Korea with 317 deaths. Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is urging people to practice prevention of tick-bites especially during outdoor activities such as farming, forest work, and mountain climbing. 

This newly emerging disease presents with symptoms that include fever, and in severe cases multiorgan failure which is. Laboratory abnormalities include thrombocytopenia, leukocytopenia, and elevated serum enzyme levels. There is currently no vaccine to prevent disease and no treatment. 

In 2018, Health Day Reporter Dennis Thompson published “New Disease-Bearing Tick Could Spread Through US.” The Asian long-horned tick is a highly invasive and adaptable tick originating in regions of China that is similar in climate to much of the US. The first detection of this tick was from NJ in 2017. Since that time, the longhorned tick has now been detected in 18 US states. According to CDC, “as of August 26, 2022, longhorned ticks have been found in Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.” This tick is linked to SFTS, which is emerging in China, South Korea and Japan.

A New England Journal of Medicine Article (McKullen, L.K., et al.) published “A new phlebovirus associated with severe febrile illness in Missouri” on 8.30.2012. Two human cases of novel virus, suspected to be closely related to SFTS, were detected in Missouri, US at this time. Both patients were men that had recently been bitten by ticks.

For More Information:

Read the Outbreak News Today Article Here

Read the Health Day Report Here

Read the Full Text New England Journal of Medicine Article Here

Read CDC Webpage on Asian longhorned tick Here

Read more on the Asian longhorned tick Here