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(Japan Times)   Not to worry, but the latest viral infection is spread by bite from microscopic mites. Oh, there's no vaccine and it's now fatal? Actually EVERYBODY PANIC   ( divider line
    More: Scary  
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16752 clicks; posted to Main » on 31 Jan 2013 at 1:01 PM (4 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2013-01-31 07:38:48 PM  
2 votes:

ringersol: neversubmit: "All good points however"

Yes, the Japanese man did not die from a strain that could be traced to China.
That, however, does not mean it's necessarily materially different.
The same evidence that ruled out a direct path seems to stand in support of it being effectively the same disease in both places.

And if it's only at 12% with the benefit of bad conditions, it's still fair below the bubonic plague, which is still at 30+% despite modern medicine (and up to 80% in bad conditions).

It also doesn't help that--when the really bad bubonic plague epidemics hit Europe--that it was a novel disease to European populations and thus was more severe.  (Generally, if a disease is "new" to a population they tend to get far sicker from it--true when measles first speciated from rinderpest sometime in the early Middle Ages (measles was far more severe and fulminant then, even taking into account "Middle Ages hygeine"), true when smallpox was introduced to the Americas (many of the recorded epidemics among First Nations peoples showed very high percentages of haemorrhagic smallpox or "black pox" which is nearly 100% fatal even with treatment--pretty much as far back as the first smallpox epidemic in Tenochtitlan which actually caused an insurrection against the Spanish), true when syphilis was first introduced to Europe (which was a major fulminant illness originally, with a disease course of weeks to months rather than decades), true when a new H1N1 flu crossed over to humans in the 1900s (still the deadliest epidemic of all time), hell, shockingly true when cholera got accidentally reintroduced to Haiti in the late 2000s.  It takes a while for the immune system and genetics to catch up to a new crud.)

With the black plague in particular, the closest it had come to Europe proper was Italy and the Byzantine Empire in the 600s (the first recorded epidemic of plague in Europe) but died out before it had spread elsewhere (and, much like the "black pox" epidemic in Tenochtitlan caused a war against the Spanish, the initial black plague epidemic was blamed on Emperor Justinian; plague did not properly enter Europe until the 1300s, largely as a factor of restored trade with the Levant and China (it's been largely determined the Great Epidemic was probably an extension of an ongoing Chinese epidemic of plague that had spread to the Near East and Levant)--most likely via Italian trading ships where black rats had made themselves home aboard ship.)

A factor pointing to the Black Death being so devastating because Europe had never been exposed to plague is the fact that OTHER areas affected in that same plague epidemic did NOT have the horrendous death tolls that Europe did (neither China nor India, both of which were affected in the same epidemic, had similar death tolls--partly because plague had circulated in those populations for generations beforehand).

Plague epidemics pretty much continued (with less severity than the Great Epidemic) until--of all things--Europe ended up being colonised by a different rat species.  (The black rat, Rattus rattus, was the primary host of the flea that carried the bubonic plague and plague started declining as Europe was colonised by the brown rat (Rattus norvegicus--so named because the first rats were found in Norway, though it's more properly native to China; it's also the same species that domesticated rats belong to, and quite possibly the first species domesticated solely as a pet rather than as a working animal or a source of food).  Nowadays, plague mostly occurs in the areas where it's always historically occurred and large black rat populations still exist (India and China) or where other animals have become persistent hosts (the southwestern US--turns out that a plague epidemic in San Francisco in the late 1800s crossed over into the local ground squirrel population, and now ground squirrels, marmots and prairie dogs are permanent reservoirs of plague).

Now, back to the subject at hand--this is a worrying little bug (mostly because it's an emerging disease with a known fatality rate)--in this case, "good conditions" versus "bad conditions" don't matter much, because with viral diseases transmitted by arthropod bites there still isn't a whole lot we can do save for keeping the arthropods in question from biting you.  (It's not even like something like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever that we can treat with antibiotics--if it's viral and from a critter bite, pretty much care is supportive.)  This is a known emerging disease in at least China (the surprising thing is that there's a Japanese variant, which indicates this may be something common in mites in that region of the world and something is occurring that makes humans a more frequent accidental host of the mites in question).

For the epidemiology geeks among us, this is a bunyavirus (and thus part of a whole big family of arthropod-borne (and rodent-poop-borne) viruses that include some nasties like Crimean-Congo haemorrhagic fever and the hantaviruses including Sin Nombre hantavirus); generally these aren't human-to-human transmissible, but can be transmitted by blood and occasionally via body fluids as well (the classic example of a "body-fluid-contaminated fomite transmissible" bunyavirus being Sin Nombre hantavirus, which is most readily transmissible by contamination with deer-mouse feces and urine...the Dine and other First Nations knew about this for thousands of years (and the risks of having deer mice in the home) but it took a recent-ish epidemic for the West to know all those old stories about "mice having dangerous medicine" had some truth to them).

Specifically, it seems to be a phlebovirus within the bunyaviruses; phleboviruses include a lot of emerging infectious diseases that pretty much only occur in the tropics--and one biggie, Rift Valley fever, that's a significant cause of both human AND animal illnesses (and is among the mosquito-borne illnesses of Africa).  It's also, interestingly, in the same family as an emerging tick-borne illness in the US--the Heartland virus which has similar symptoms as the Japanese and Chinese mite-borne illness (but which fortunately does not seem to be nearly as lethal).

The main difficulty here is that they're still not entirely sure HOW the Japanese patient caught the virus, which seems to be not quite the Chinese version but may be yet ANOTHER emerging phlebovirus (I'll definitely be watching PROMed to see if anything else terms up on this, I'm on their EID list); the Chinese version (much like Heartland virus) seems to be tick-borne, and pretty much with bunyaviruses you only get them from blood or bodily fluids (usually by having a critter infected with a bunyavirus biting you, with hantaviruses more typically from rodent poop) if he wasn't bitten, it could be something emerging that spreads via rodent poop (like how non-NDN folks discovered Sin Nombre).
2013-01-31 01:12:23 PM  
2 votes:


2013-01-31 02:52:51 PM  
1 vote:
can also be transmitted through contact with a victim's blood and bodily fluids.

This appears to be horseshiat. says:

The viruses in the ticks were isolated in Vero cell culture, and the RNA sequences of these viruses were very closely related but not identical to the SFTSV isolated in samples obtained from the patients (data not shown). There was no epidemiologic evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus.
2013-01-31 02:01:18 PM  
1 vote:
neversubmit: "BP had a lot of help from poor hygiene and even poorer diet. "

And this new thing has 12% mortality *in China*.
So it's not like it's being held down by first-world medicine.

/ I'm sure China has some great hospitals
// I'm just also sure that not many Chinese have access to them
2013-01-31 01:21:34 PM  
1 vote:

bikerbob59: It's in Japan for Christ sakes.  How the hell is it going to get to the Americas?  Swim???
2013-01-31 01:14:24 PM  
1 vote:

mekki: Somewhere the Black Plague is scoffing, "Amateur."

BP had a lot of help from poor hygiene and even poorer diet.
2013-01-31 01:11:34 PM  
1 vote:

xanadian: Alebak: Amos Quito: "the new viral infection, called severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome"
I refuse to panic until they come up with a better name for this pandemic.


At least it's not Saturday Night Fever:  the musculo-neurological syndrome where a patient has to "boogie" and ends up dancing to death.

True facts: that was actually a thing that already happened
2013-01-31 01:10:58 PM  
1 vote:
2013-01-31 12:46:08 PM  
1 vote:

Zombie DJ: The syndrome - characterized by symptoms such as nausea, depletion of blood platelets, a fall in appetite and headaches - can also be transmitted through contact with a victim's blood and bodily fluids.

So I should stop getting pee'd on by Asian hookers?

If that's the price we have to pay then it's not worth it.
2013-01-31 12:33:58 PM  
1 vote:
The syndrome - characterized by symptoms such as nausea, depletion of blood platelets, a fall in appetite and headaches - can also be transmitted through contact with a victim's blood and bodily fluids.

So I should stop getting pee'd on by Asian hookers?
2013-01-31 11:54:36 AM  
1 vote:
12% mortality rate...
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