A woman in western Japan has died from a tick borne illness, without being bitten by a tick.
The case is believed to be the world’s first death from an infection with no direct bite, according to the Japan Times.
The woman in her 50s was apparently bitten by a stray cat that had fallen ill and was infected from a tick bite, Japan’s health ministry said on July 25. She died 10 days later after being bitten.
Health officials said the cat transmitted the disease to the woman when she was bitten last year. The disease is called severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome, known as SFTS, a “relatively new infectious disease confirmed in Japan, China, and South Korea,” The Japan Times noted.
The first infection of SFTS in Japan was in 2013. So far there have been reports of 266 people being infected by the disease where 57 of them have died.
In the United States there have not been reports of the same tick borne illness but according to LiveScience.com the virus is similar to the “Heartland virus,” another tick-borne disease, which has seen reported cases in the United States, Fox news reports.
In a Facebook post, the Japanese newspaper warns about the possible fatal illnesses you can get from a tick.
Masayuki Saijo, an expert at the National Institute of Infectious Diseases told the Japan Times that the tick cases are very rare and of little risk to humans.
“This time, the cat in question died after showing very serious symptoms,” he said. Saijo added that cats kept indoors have a minimal risk of being bitten by ticks.
When contracting SFTS first there’s an incubation period lasting six days to two weeks before the illness causes symptoms such as fever, nausea, and drowsiness, Japan’s health officials said.
Japan’s Health Ministry is warning the country to stay away from pets kept outside that show signs of illness.