Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome
A novel emerging disease

Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome or SFTS is a hemorrhagic fever with a high mortality rate in humans. It is caused by the bite of an infected tick  and endemic in Eastern Asia.

This disease is of concern because no effective therapies or vaccines are available, while the number of cases increases significantly each year.



New infections per year








Dead per year

What causes SFTS

Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome is a viral disease, caused by the Dabie bandavirus. It has a high mortality rate in humans, between 12 and 30 %.

It is spread mostly by Asian longhorn ticks, also know as bush ticks or cattle ticks.

The disease can also be transmitted between people. Those working in rural areas, especially farmers, people with high levels of interaction with animals, and hospital staff attending to positive patients are at risk of acquiring the disease.

Photo: Asian longhorned tick - Haemaphysalis longicornis

Where is SFTS found

The Asian longhorned tick is native to temperate areas of East and Central Asia, including China, Korea, and Japan, as well as Pacific islands. The disease is at this moment limited to Eastern China but has been reported in 23 Chinese provinces, South Korea and Japan.

It was first discovered between late March and mid-July 2009 in rural areas of Hubei and Henan provinces in Central China.

Image: Geographical distribution of SFTS

What are the symptoms of SFTS

The most common clinical symptoms include fever, nausea, diarrhea, muscle pain, and bleeding associated with thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), leucopenia (low white blood cell count), multiple organ failure, and elevated liver enzyme levels.

How can SFTS be prevented

Avoid contact with ticks. Wear long trousers in wooded and brushy areas with high grass and leaf litter. Treat clothing and gear with products containing 0.5% permethrin.

How is SFTS diagnosed

Diagnosis is done with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, such as the ones made available by the WoIDM.

How is SFTS Fever treated

No specific treatment exists, other than managing the patient based on symptoms. Antivirals such as ribavirin can be used to treat the disease.

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