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Background:Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) is an emerging disease that is caused by a novel bunyavirus, referred to as SFTS virus. During January 2011 to December 2011 we conducted a case-control study in Henan, Hubei and Shandong Provinces of China to determine the risk factors for SFTS.
Methods:Case-patients were identified in hospitals and reported to provincial Centers for Disease Control and Prevention while being notified electronically to the National Surveillance System. Controls were randomly selected from a pool of patients admitted to the same hospital ward within one week of the inclusion of the cases. They were matched by age (+/−5 years) and gender.
Results:A total of 422 patients participated in the study including 134 cases and 288 matched controls. The median age of the cases was 58.8 years, ranging from 47.6 to 70.1 years; 54.5% were male. No differences in demographics were observed between cases and controls; however, farmers were frequent and more common among cases (88.8%) than controls (58.7%). In multivariate analysis, the odds for SFTS was 2.4~4.5 fold higher with patients who reported tick bites or presence of tick in the living area. Other independent risk factors included cat or cattle ownership and reported presence of weeds and shrubs in the working environment.
Conclusions:Our findings support the hypothesis that ticks are important vectors of SFTS virus. Further investigations are warranted to understand the detailed modes of transmission of SFTS virus while vector management, education on tick bites prevention and personal hygiene management should be implemented for high-risk groups in high incidence areas.
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