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Prevalence of SFTSV RNA in Humans, Animals, and Ticks: A Systematic Review

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Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS), a tick-borne illness caused by the SFTS virus (SFTSV), poses significant public health challenges. To effectively control SFTS, it is crucial to understand the prevalence of SFTSV RNA across humans, various vertebrate hosts, and ticks. This study systematically reviews existing literature and conducts a meta-analysis to provide comprehensive insights into the prevalence rates and vectors associated with SFTSV transmission.

Study Methods and Analysis

A meticulous review process was employed, involving searches across nine electronic databases for relevant publications on SFTSV RNA prevalence. Data extracted from these sources underwent a pooled prevalence estimation using a random effects model. Additionally, subgroup analysis and multivariable meta-regression were conducted to pinpoint heterogeneity sources.

The study found that the pooled prevalence of SFTSV RNA among humans in close contact with infected individuals was 5.59% (95% CI 2.78-9.15%), while it was significantly lower in healthy individuals from endemic regions at 0.05% (95% CI 0.00-0.65%). These findings highlight the heightened risk of infection among close contacts compared to the general population in endemic areas.

Prevalence in Vertebrate Hosts and Ticks

In vertebrate hosts, higher SFTSV infection rates were observed in artiodactyls (5.60%; 95% CI 2.95-8.96%) and carnivores (6.34%; 95% CI 3.27-10.23%) compared to rodents (0.45%; 95% CI 0.00-1.50%). Rabbits, hedgehogs, and birds also emerged as significant contributors to SFTSV transmission, underscoring the diverse range of hosts involved.

The primary vector for SFTSV was identified as the genus Haemaphysalis, with members of Ixodes, Dermacentor, and Amblyomma also playing notable roles. Adult ticks exhibited the highest pooled prevalence at 1.03% (95% CI 0.35-1.96%), followed by nymphs (0.66%; 95% CI 0.11-1.50%) and larvae (0.01%; 95% CI 0.00-0.46%). Ticks from endemic areas had a pooled prevalence of 1.86% (95% CI 0.86-3.14%), significantly higher than those from non-endemic regions (0.41%; 95% CI 0.12-0.81%).

User-Usable Inferences

– Close contact with SFTS-infected individuals significantly increases the risk of infection.
– Artiodactyls and carnivores show higher SFTSV infection rates compared to other vertebrates.
– Adult ticks are more likely to carry SFTSV compared to nymphs and larvae.
– Endemic regions have a higher prevalence of SFTSV in ticks than non-endemic areas.

The study concludes that latent SFTSV infections exist among healthy individuals in endemic regions, with close contacts of SFTS cases at considerably higher risk. Infection rates vary by animal type and tick development stage, and further research is needed to explore the impact of environmental factors on SFTSV prevalence in vertebrate hosts and ticks.

Original Article: Parasit Vectors. 2024 Jun 20;17(1):265. doi: 10.1186/s13071-024-06341-2.

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