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tick fear-mothball sales


SEOUL, May 21 (Yonhap) -- Sales of mothballs have soared following the first suspected death from a killer tick virus last week, Lotte Mart Co. said Tuesday, amid fears that the deadly disease may have spread to the nation from neighboring countries.

Lotte Mart, the nation's third largest discount chain, said its mothball sales surged 30.8 percent between Wednesday and Sunday, with the sales of anti-flea mothballs more than doubling in the same period.

The sudden surge comes after a 73-year-old man on Jeju Island died last Friday after showing symptoms similar to those of severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome caused by a tick-borne virus.

Prior to his death between May 1 and May 14, the sales of pesticides and anti-flea mothballs declined 26.9 percent and 24.9 percent, respectively, Lotte Mart said.

"The suspected flea-related death last week seems to be the cause for the increase in anti-flea product sales," a Lotte Mart official said.

On Tuesday, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) confirmed the nation's first death caused by the tick-borne virus, following a retrospective analysis of five suspected human infections last year.

A 63-year-old woman was found to have died last August from the Haemaphysalis longicornis virus, the KCDC said. The remaining four were not found to have been infected.

There are currently 10 patients being suspected of carrying the disease, according to KCDC officials, of which two have died.

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