A Facebook user shared the image above that presents claims of a new tick-borne infectious disease virus, spreading in China, which has allegedly killed 7 people and infected 60 others.
Unlike the COVID-19 virus, which almost the entire world is currently struggling with, the severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) virus is not a new virus. Belonging to the bunyaviruses (insects and rodent-borne viruses) category, China first identified the tick-borne virus in 2009. It has also been reported in Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
The symptoms include sudden high fever, chills, loss of appetite, bleeding of gums, gastrointestinal symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea and abdominal pain, muscular pain, neurological abnormalities such as headache, confusion and seizure, thrombocytopenia (extremely low levels of platelets), leukocytopenia (low levels of white blood cells), and coagulopathy (where the blood loses its ability to form a clot and stop bleeding).
A search for the keywords ‘tick-borne virus in China’ yields several reports on the subject.
On August 5, 2020, China’s state-run Global Times reported on the virus, saying in part, “A total of 37 people in East China’s Jiangsu Province have been diagnosed with Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS) this year, a disease caused by the novel bunya virus which is spread by ticks. Experts have warned that the virus can be transmitted from person to person.”
According to the Economic Times, “Virologists believe that the infection may have been passed on to humans by Haemaphysalis longicornis, Asian long-horned tick. The possibility of transmission of virus between humans has not been excluded, but there isn’t any confirmation about it yet.”
It is true that China has reported infections and deaths from a tick-borne virus.