A previously unknown virus transmitted to humans by ticks and capable of causing acute fever has been identified in Japan. It was reported October 4 in a study published in the journal Nature Communications.
A total of seven patients were found to have the infection, with cases recorded from 2014 to 2020. Symptoms of infection included fever and decreased platelet and white blood cell counts. There were no fatal cases among all those infected.
Researchers from Hokkaido University, along with colleagues from other universities and medical institutions in Japan, conducted a genetic analysis of the virus. It was isolated from the blood of two Hokkaido patients infected in 2019 and 2020. As a result, a previously unknown pathogen from the genus Orthonairovirus, which also includes the Congo-Crimean hemorrhagic fever virus, was identified.
Scientists named it Yezo virus (YEZV), as Hokkaido was previously called.
“Yezo virus appears to be common in Hokkaido and causes a disease that is transmitted to humans from animals through ticks,” Keita Matsuno, a virologist at the International Zoonotic Disease Control Institute, was quoted as saying in a press release from Hokkaido University. According to the specialist, the disease could be detected outside of Hokkaido as well.
Specialists plan to track the possible spread of the new virus among wild animals and humans nationwide. Information will be collected on patients who have gone to hospitals in the country with similar symptoms.