A woman has died after contracting the SFTS virus from a cat bite in the first case of its kind in the world, Japan's Ministry of Health has said.
The virus, which is usually passed to animals through ticks, was first discovered in Japan in 2013, according to news site Cooperativa.
There have been 266 recorded human cases in Japan, with 57 resulting in fatalties, and hundreds more in China and South Korea over recent years.
However, until now, it was thought humans could only contract the virus from tick bites; in fact the Japanese health ministry believes this is the first-ever case of SFTS being passed to humans from other mammals.
The woman who died had no signs of a tick bite and is thought to have contracted the virus from a bite by a stray cat, which she had taken in hoping to get it treated by a vet.
The woman, who was in her 50s, died 10 days after being bitten. She had suffered high fever and other severe symptoms from the virus before she passed away.
There is no known treatment for the virus at present, despite its prevalence in the Far East. The key symptoms include fever, gastrointestinal problems and leukopenia.
The mortality rate is currently estimated to be between 12 and 30%, meaning it is among the most dangerous viruses in the world.
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