Following the containment of Covid-19 cases, the global stage is now once again captivated by the emergence of a novel virus in Japan, known as the Oz Virus. This alarming development has claimed the life of one individual and stirred significant attention worldwide, including in Indonesia. Thankfully, the Ministry of Health has reassured the public that the virus has yet to be detected within the country’s borders.
A 70-year-old woman in Japan tragically succumbed to the Oz Virus after being exposed to it for a period of 26 days, intensifying concerns surrounding this viral strain. However, Maxi Rein Rondonuwu, the Director General of Disease Prevention and Control at the Ministry of Health, affirmed that it has not been identified in Indonesia, providing some relief amidst the global turmoil.
Maxi explained that the Oz Virus belongs to the Thogotovirus genus, a newly discovered member isolated from a group of three nymphs of the Amblyomma testudinarium tick. These tick nymphs were collected in Ehime Prefecture back in 2018. It is worth noting that the virus is categorized as a zoonotic virus, capable of transmission to humans through intermediary animals or wildlife such as monkeys, deer, and rats.
“In humans, Thogotovirus has been known to cause a range of severe conditions, including encephalitis, fever, pneumonia, and, in some cases, even death,” Maxi emphasized, shedding light on the potential dangers associated with this emerging it.
Nevertheless, the precise mode of transmission from animals to humans remains unclear, with tick bites being a possible route of infection. Maxi’s statements echo the concerns and uncertainties surrounding the Oz Virus, urging further research and vigilance in understanding its dynamics.
Recent reports indicated that a woman in Ibaraki Prefecture, located north of Tokyo, succumbed to myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle, suspected to be caused by the virus. It was during her visit to a hospital, complaining of fever and fatigue, that a tick was discovered biting her upper thigh, suggesting a potential link between the tick bite and the viral infection.
Autopsy findings confirmed the presence of the Oz Virus in her system, marking the first detection of this viral strain in Japan since its initial identification in 2018 from specific species of hard ticks in the Kanto region, encompassing Tokyo and surrounding areas.
Moreover, the National Institute of Infectious Disease (NIID) in Tokyo reported the detection of Oz Virus antibodies in wild monkeys, wild boars, and deer across several prefectures, including Chiba, Tokyo, Gifu, Mie, Wakayama, Yamaguchi, and Oita.
Furthermore, two hunters in Yamaguchi were found to have tested positive for the its antibodies, underscoring the spread of the Thogotovirus within diverse demographic groups and geographical regions worldwide.
Given the ongoing research and investigations, the diagnosis of Oz Virus infection relies on a process of elimination, particularly when patients present with unexplained fever symptoms and a history of tick bites. Virology laboratory tests, employing techniques such as the enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA), are conducted to confirm the presence of the virus and aid in its identification.
As the world grapples with the emergence of the Virus, scientists, health authorities, and the global community at large must remain vigilant, prioritize research efforts, and strengthen preventive measures to mitigate the potential impact of this novel viral strain.