Scrub Typhus: A mystery fever was recently reported from parts of Uttar Pradesh which claimed about 40 lives, mostly children in one week.
- This viral fever was identified as Scrub typhus.
- Scrub typhus was reported mainly from Firozabad, Agra, Mainpuri, Etah and Kasganj districts of Uttar Pradesh.
About Scrub typhus:
- Scrub typhus, also known as bush typhus, is a disease caused by bacteria called Orientia tsutsugamushi (formerly Rickettsia tsutsugamushi).
Note: The name of the bacterium is of Japanese origin. The word “tsutsuga” means illness and “Mushi” means insect.
- Scrub typhus is spread to people through bites of infected chiggers (larval mites).
- Bite marks are found on the armpit, genitalia, or neck.
- It is a rare zoonotic disease (which can be transmitted from animals to humans) with symptoms similar to any viral fever.
- Doxycycline, an antibiotic, is the most common drug used for its treatment.
Symptoms of scrub typhus:
- Symptoms of scrub typhus usually begin within 10 days of being bitten.
- Signs and symptoms may include:
- Fever and chills
- Body aches and muscle pain
- A dark, scab-like region at the site of the chigger bite (also known as eschar)
- Mental changes, ranging from confusion to coma
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- In complicated cases, it could lead to pneumonia, meningo-encephalitis, gastro-intestinal bleeding, acute renal failure, and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) which can be fatal if left untreated.
Is scrub typhus curable?
- According to the doctors, this disease is curable using antibiotics, but it can get out of hand when the diagnosis is delayed.
- This disease has been named “scrub” after the type of vegetation that harbours the vector.
Note: Typhus is a Greek word meaning “fever with stupor” or smoke.
- This disease took the form of an epidemic during World War II in some countries while during the Second World War; it emerged as the most dreaded disease among soldiers of the Far East.
- In India, this fever broke out in an epidemic form during Second World War in West Bengal and Assam.
Different types of Typhus:
Thypus is a group of bacterial infectious diseases that include Scrub typhus, Epidemic typhus, and Murine typhus.
- Scrub typhus is due to Orientia tsutsugamushi spread by chiggers.
- Epidemic typhus is due to Rickettsia prowazekii spread by body lice.
- Murine typhus is due to Rickettsia typhi spread by fleas.