Health officials issued a tick bite alert notice on Sunday, April 15, after confirming a case of Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (SFTS) on April 9 in Jeju. Officials advised individuals to take preventive action to protect against tick bites (use insect repellent, be particularly cautious in wooded areas, etc.). Individuals over the age of 50 are at a significantly higher risk of contracting the disease.
SFTS is a newly emerging disease, transmitted to humans through the bite of the infected ixodid tick. The peak risk period for SFTS is from April to November, when ticks carrying the SFTS virus are most active. Since 2013, there have been 607 confirmed cases in China, South Korea, and Japan - the only three countries to have reported cases of SFTS to date - 127 of which were fatal.
Symptoms of SFTS include fever, diarrhea, nausea, and swollen lymph nodes. The virus can ultimately lead to multi-system organ failure and death.
To avoid tick bites, individuals should use insect repellent when outdoors and wear long sleeve shirts and pants when walking in densely wooded areas. Check for ticks after hikes and remove them immediately if discovered. If presenting with the above symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.