by EBSCO Medical Review Board


Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) is an infection from a tick bite. It may cause fever and bleeding problems in some people. It can be deadly for others.


SFTS is caused by a virus. A specific type of tick can pick up the virus when it bites an infected animal. The tick can then pass the virus when it bites a human.

Risk Factors

The biggest risk for SFTS is spending time in a high-risk area without protection. SFTS has been found in China, South Korea, and Japan.

Check with local travel sources to see where SFTS is active before you travel.


People with SFTS may have:

  • Fever
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Lack of energy
  • Bruising without a known cause
  • Small purple or red spots under the skin
  • Stomach upset
  • Problems stopping nosebleeds or cuts from bleeding
  • Heavy periods in women
  • Blood in urine or stool


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done. Talk to your doctor about exposure to ticks and recent travel. SFTS may be suspected based on these details.

There are other viruses that can be passed from ticks. A blood test may be done to find out the specific virus that is causing problems.


Options may be:


Antiviral medicine may be given to help the body fight the virus.

Plasma Exchange Therapy

Plasma is the fluid part of your blood. The virus can travel through the body in this fluid. A plasma exchange will remove infected plasma. The plasma will be replaced with healthy, donated plasma or another fluid. The exchange will lower the amount of virus in the body. This makes it easier to fight the virus and may improve symptoms.


Take steps to prevent tick bites:

  • Do not spend time in places that are likely to be have ticks, such as grassy, brushy, or wooded places.
  • Wear light-colored clothing with long pants tucked into socks and long-sleeved shirts.
  • Wear closed-toe shoes.
  • Use tick repellent on clothing and skin.
  • Check for ticks on clothing and skin.

To remove a tick from the body:

  • Use tweezers to grab the tick close to the skin. Pull up with steady pressure.
  • Clean the bite site.
  • Save the tick so it can be tested.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

World Health Organization 


Health Canada 

National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health 


In Park, Hye In Kim, et al. Two treatment cases of severe fever and thrombocytopenia syndrome with oral ribavirin and plasma exchange. Infect Chemother. 2017 Mar;49(1):72-77.

Kim Y, Yun Y, et al. Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome Virus Infection, South Korea, 2010. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2018;24(11):2103-2105. Available at: Accessed October 7, 2019.

Robles NJC, Han HJ, et al. Epidemiology of severe fever and thrombocytopenia syndrome virus infection and the need for therapeutics for the prevention. Clin Exp Vaccine Res. 2018 Jan;7(1):43-50.

Stafford KC. Tick Management Handbook. Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station 2007.

Tick avoidance and removal. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:  . Updated August 4, 2016. Accessed October 7, 2019.

Tran X, Yun Y, et al. Endemic Severe Fever with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome, Vietnam. Emerging Infectious Diseases. 2019;25(5):1029-1031. Available at: Accessed October 7, 2019.

Yan Liu, Qun Li, et al. Person-to-person transmission of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus. Vector Borne and Zoonotic Dis. 2012 Feb;12(2):156-160.

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