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Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus Infection or Mixed Infection with Scrub Typhus in South Korea in 2000–2003

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  • 1 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea;
  • | 2 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea;
  • | 3 Institute of Endemic Disease, Seoul National University Medical Research Center and Bundang Hospital, Seoul, South Korea;
  • | 4 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine, Jeju National University, Jeju, South Korea

Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome is a tick-borne viral disease, with a high mortality rate that was first reported in China in 2009. Scrub typhus is an acute febrile illness caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, a bacterium transmitted to humans through chigger mite bites. Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome and scrub typhus are endemic to South Korea. To investigate evidence of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV) infection or mixed infection with scrub typhus in South Korea, we examined 2,329 sera samples collected from patients presenting from November 1, 2000, to November 1, 2003, for the diagnosis of rickettisal diseases at Seoul National University, Seoul, South Korea. We found retrospective evidence of SFTSV infection or mixed infection with scrub typhus in South Korea in 2000–2003. Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus infections in South Korea occurred before previously reported cases and were more concurrent with those in China. It is important to consider SFTSV infection in patients with scrub typhus.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to Keun Hwa Lee, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Jeju National University College of Medicine, 15 Aran 13-gil, Jeju 63241, South Korea, E-mail: yomust7@jejunu.ac.kr or Nam-Hyuk Cho, Department of Microbiology and Immunology and Biomedical Sciences, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul 03080, South Korea, E-mail: chonh@snu.ac.kr.

Financial support: This work was supported by a grant from the National Research Foundation of Korea (grant number: 2017M3A9E4061998) and the Korean Health Technology R&D Project of the Ministry of Health & Welfare, Republic of Korea (grant number: HI15C2891). NTHY, CK, KJ, HC, HJR, H-IK, YK, and JGK received a scholarship from the BK21-plus education program provided by the National Research Foundation of Korea.

Authors’ addresses: Nguyen Thi Hai Yen, Chaewon Kim, Seonyoung Jeong, Kyeongseok Jeon, Hooncheol Choi, Hyo-Jin Ro, Hong-Il Kim, Yuri Kim, Myung-Sik Choi, and Nam-Hyuk Cho, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea, E-mails: nguyenthihaiyenktyh@gmail.com, zzae_1@snu.ac.kr, syjeong02@snu.ac.kr, jkyeong26@snu.ac.kr, hoonchul46@snu.ac.kr, hyojin622@snu.ac.kr, oneperson18@snu.ac.kr, tkarkrwja62@snu.ac.kr, myung@snu.ac.kr, and chonh@snu.ac.kr. Jun-Gu Kang, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, South Korea, E-mail: herculess@snu.ac.kr. Dahee Park and Keun Hwa Lee, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine, Jeju National University, Jeju, South Korea, E-mails: archons1004@naver.com and yomust7@jejunu.ac.kr.

These authors contributed equally to this work.

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