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Doctors earn tick for life-saving diagnosis

DOCTORS at Punan Hospital yesterday announced a medical breakthrough with the city's first successful treatment of a patient afflicted with a rare and life-threatening virus caused by a tick bite.

The patient was suffering from forest encephalitis, which attacks the central nervous system.

Punan doctors said they contacted the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention and were told it was the first time the disease was detected in the city.

The patient, a 48-year-old man from China's northeastern Heilongjiang Province, went to Punan Hospital on June 9 suffering from twitching and paralysis and eventually became comatose.

The man, identified by his surname of Qiu, was in Shanghai on business when his symptoms became obvious.

"His condition worsened quickly," said Yin Zhifa, a hospital official. "There is no specific medicine available to treat the disease so early detection and treatment are the keys to ensure survival."

"It was one sentence from a friend of Qiu's that alerted our doctors," Yin said. "He said Qiu was bitten by a tick while exercising in a forest about two weeks ago."

He said a patient with the virus could die quickly without proper treatment. "Some patients can also suffer later complications, including brain damage," Yin said.

Symptoms may include fever, lethargy, muscle aches, headache and nausea in the first stages.

The patient's symptoms eased four days after his hospitalization and he recovered after receiving about 20 days of treatment.


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