Starts with 'black bite', ends in death, all about scrub typhus, mystery fever found in UP & Assam

Starts with 'black bite', ends in death, all about scrub typhus, mystery fever found in UP & Assam

Scrub typhus is a disease caused by the bacteria Orientia tsutsugamushi, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Mathura in western Uttar Pradesh has recorded cases of a mystery illness that has been confirmed as scrub typhus. More than a dozen people in the district have been infected with the sickness.

Following complaints of infection in the area, medical teams collected samples from residents of Koh village in Mathura district, the Hindustan Times has reported. The samples collected were eventually discovered to be infected with scrub typhus.

Two days ago, the Sentinel Assam had reported that a Covid hospital at Sarusajai in Guwahati was been ordered to close down temporarily by the Assam Health Department for 15 days after scrub typhus was detected in the hospital. Reports said 29 cases of the disease were recorded in the hospital. The victims of the bacterial disease include the superintendent of the hospital, Rajpratim Das, a few nurses and health workers and some Covid-19 patients admitted to the hospital, the report said.

What is scrub typhus?

Scrub typhus is a disease caused by the bacteria Orientia tsutsugamushi, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Bush typhus is another name for it. People become infected with it after being bitten by infected chiggers (larval mites).

Starts with 'black bite', ends in death, all about scrub typhus, mystery fever found in UP & Assam
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What are its’ symptoms?

According to the CDC, the symptoms of scrub typhus are similar to those of many other vector-borne or rickettsial infections and usually appear within 10 days after being bitten. These include:

  • Fever

  • chills

  • headache

  • body aches

  • rashes

  • muscle soreness, among others.

The location of the chigger bite produces a black, scab-like patch called as eschar. The CDC says after contracting the virus, a person may undergo mental changes ranging from disorientation to coma.

Some of the patients also experience joint problems, which is a symptom of chikungunya. The infection can cause respiratory distress, brain and lung inflammation, renal failure, and subsequently multi-organ failure, which can lead to death.

Is a vaccine available?

The CDC says there is no vaccination yet available to prevent scrub typhus. Avoiding contact with infected chiggers would reduce the risk of infection.

The organisation also advised individuals to avoid locations with a lot of foliage and brush where chiggers may be found when travelling to areas where scrub typhus is common.

Where has scrub typhus been found?

Scrub typhus has been reported in rural areas of Indonesia, China, Japan, and northern Australia, in addition to India.

Treatment

According to the CDC, if a person becomes infected with scrub typhus, they should be treated with the medication doxycycline, adding that people who are treated with doxycycline early usually recover swiftly.

Prevention

To prevent scrub typhus, the CDC recommends that children wear clothing that covers their arms and legs, or that they cover their cot, stroller, and infant carrier with mosquito netting. It also instructed them to treat their clothing and equipment with 0.5 percent permethrin, which kills chiggers.

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