Severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome (SFTS) is a tick-borne infection that has recently emerged. This infectious disease is due to the transfer of SFTS virus (SFTSV) from the infected blood of animals to humans. Approximately 30% of patients who are infected with SFTS die from multiorgan failure associated with severe infection, systemic inflammatory response syndrome, or disseminated intravascular coagulation. We treated an elderly Japanese couple (husband and wife) who had genetically identical SFTSV infections and who both developed severe rhabdomyolysis.
An 80-year-old man presented to the clinic with a fever; his 74-year-old wife presented with a fever 9 days later. Their laboratory results at diagnosis showed severe rhabdomyolysis with significantly elevated creatinine kinase (detected levels: husband, 9546 U/L; wife, 15,933 U/L). The creatinine kinase isozyme was 100% MM type in both patients. In both the husband and wife, SFTSV was identified with real-time polymerase chain reaction analysis. The detected SFTSVs in both the husband and wife were identical according to the genome sequence analysis. The husband’s bone marrow indicated macrophage activation syndrome, but he responded to supportive therapy. He was discharged after being hospitalized for 32 days. The wife was admitted to our hospital in critical condition 2 days after SFTS symptom onset. She died of multiorgan failure 8 days after onset, despite being cared for in an intensive care unit. Both of the patients presented with rhabdomyolysis following SFTS symptom onset. The patients’ clinical outcomes were different from each other; i.e., the husband survived, and the wife died.
SFTSV infection-associated rhabdomyolysis has been reported in one patient, and simultaneous onset in two related patients has not been described previously. Our findings suggest that similar biological responses occurred, but they resulted in different clinical outcomes in the patients infected by the identical SFTSV isolates. Notably, a patient’s clinical outcome depends on their own immune response. We suggest that one component of viral rhabdomyolysis involves immune-mediated responses. Severe immunological responses may adversely affect the treatment outcome, as demonstrated by the wife’s clinical course. Our findings demonstrate that a patient’s immune response contributes to their prognosis following SFTSV infection.