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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Japan reports world’s 1st fatal case of tick-borne Oz virus

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Tokyo: A Japanese woman died of myocarditis last year after contracting the Oz virus, making her death the world’s first fatal case of the virus, the country’s health authorities have said.

The woman in her 70s who lived in Ibaraki Prefecture, northeast of Tokyo, did not have a history of traveling abroad, but had underlying diseases including hypertension, according to the report jointly released on Friday by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the National Insititute of Infectious Diseases (NIID).

She visited a medical institution last summer with symptoms including fever, fatigue, and joint pain and was diagnosed with pneumonia. After her condition worsened, she was hospitalized, and a hard tick was found sucking blood on the base of her right thigh, they said.

She died of myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart, 26 days after she was hospitalized.

The virus, first detected in 2018 in the Amblyomma testudinarium tick found in the western prefecture of Ehime, is not necessarily fatal, but more studies need to be conducted on its symptoms and dangers, according to the NIID.

The Oz virus is thought to be transmitted through the bite of the tick, the institute said, with the species existing across a wide area of Japan.

The virus has so far not been found outside Japan, according to the health ministry.

It advises people to avoid exposing their skin when in areas where they may come in contact with hard ticks and visit a doctor instead of trying to remove them themselves once bitten by such ticks.

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