Asia

Japanese woman dies from tick disease after cat bite

Tick Image copyright Thinkstock

A Japanese woman died last year of a tick-borne disease after being bitten by a stray cat, Japan's health ministry says, in what could be the first such mammal-to-human transmission.

The unnamed woman in her 50s had been helping the apparently sick cat.

Ten days later she died of Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS), which is carried by ticks.

With no tick bite detected, doctors assume the illness could have been contracted via the cat.

"No reports on animal-to-human transmission cases have been made so far," a Japanese health ministry official told the AFP news agency.

"It's still not confirmed the virus came from the cat, but it's possible that it is the first case," the official added.

SFTS is a relatively new infectious disease emerging in China, Korea and Japan.

The virus is said to have fatality rates of up to 30% and is especially severe in people over 50.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Cute - but potentially carrying a deadly virus?

According to Japanese media, SFTS first occurred in the country in 2013.

Japan's health ministry said last year's death was still a rare case but warned people to be careful when in contact with animals in poor physical condition.

Globally, tick bites are widely associated with transmitting Lyme disease which can lead to severe illness and death if left untreated.

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