Phlebovirus Infection

The Bunyaviridae family comprises five genera, including Orthobunyavirus, Phlebovirus, Nairovirus, Hantavirus, and Tospovirus. The majority of viruses within this family (with the exception of Hantaviruses) are considered arthropod-borne viruses which are important causes of human disease around the world.

Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) virus is a newly recognized member of the genus Phlebovirus in the family Bunyaviridae. The virus was isolated from patients with viral hemorrhagic fever. The fatality rate is of 12 to 30%. First discovered in rural areas of middle-eastern China in 2009, severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) this zoonosis is affecting hundreds of cases reported in China each year. Although human cases caused by SFTS virus have only been reported in Asia (including Japan and South Korea), another tick-borne phlebovirus, Heartland virus, a close relative of SFTS virus, caused serious and fatal cases in the United States and in Australia. Evidence has also been obtained about the possibility of person-to-person transmission. Therefore, SFTS virus is a highly pathogenic phlebovirus.

Cattle tick

FTSV has been widely detected and isolated from two tick species: Haemaphysalis longicornis (cattle tick, also called scrub tick and bush tick)  and Rhipicephalus microplus tick in epidemic areas, suggesting that these ticks are the most likely vector for transmitting the virus to humans. Domestic animals are thought to be the reservoirs for the virus, as SFTSV antibodies have been found in goats, cattle, sheep, pigs and dogs. Humans may also be infected through contact with infected patient's blood.

The major clinical symptoms and findings of this disease include fever, emesis, diarrhea, lymph node swelling, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia. Supportive care remains the standard treatment.

Tick biting in a patient infected with Phlebovirus


  1. Extracellular Vesicles Mediate Receptor-Independent Transmission of Novel Tick-Borne Bunyavirus. Jesus A. Silvas, et al.
  2. A National Assessment of the Epidemiology of Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome, China. Kun Liu et al.
  3. Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome presenting as hemophagocytic syndrome: two case reports. Akihito Kitao et al.

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