A new virus transmitted by ticks has been identified in Japan. It is the first of its type known to infect humans.
The Covid-19 epidemic is not over until a new virus is talking about it in Japan: the Yezo virus. “At least seven people have been infected since 2014,” said Professor Keita Matsuno, who works at Hokkaido University. It was in this city that the Yezo virus was first identified in 2019.
A 41-year-old man was then admitted to hospital with a high fever and pain in his legs. He explained that he was bitten by a tick while walking in the area. A second contamination of this type led to a virological analysis. This revealed the presence of a new virus of the orthonairovirus type, a type of RNA virus which includes around forty viruses.
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Fever, liver dysfunction …
This type of virus had already been identified in ticks, but “this is the first time that an endemic infection associated with an orthonairovirus has been detected”, underlines Professor Matsuno. No death has been recorded so far in humans. It is, however, “very likely that the disease is present beyond Hokkaido, and we must therefore urgently investigate its spread,” said the doctor who is the lead author of a study on the subject published in the review Nature Communications.
The Yezo virus causes high fever, liver dysfunction, and low blood platelets and white blood cells. The researchers are urging hospitals in Japan to test all patients with similar symptoms to assess the incidence of the disease. The main risk is that the virus will mutate and become more dangerous.
To limit the risk of contamination, doctors recommend protecting yourself from ticks. When walking in the forest, wear long clothes, use repellents and remember to inspect your skin after each outing. Good reflexes useful for preventing Lyme disease, transmitted by ticks as well. Four of the seven patients infected with the Yezo virus were infected with the bacteria Borrelia.
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