A recent study by Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH) has revealed that cases of scrub typhus, a mite-borne infectious disease, are being diagnosed with high prevalence in Ludhiana.
Though cases of the disease are commonly found in hilly states like Himachal Pradesh, the study 'Scrub Typhus-An Emerging Entity' (a prevalence study) by CMCH found the cases had a 13% prevalence among the fever cases reported at the hospital.
The study, conducted by the microbiology department of CMCH, found that while 91 out of 834 fever cases were found positive for scrub typhus in 2013, the number was 98 out of 772 fever cases in 2012. It also found that majority of cases were reported during monsoon, with a few cases coming in during December as well.
Dr Aroma Oberoi, professor and head of microbiology department, CMCH, said, “Scrub typhus or tsutsugamushi is a febrile zoonotic disease caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi of the rickettsial family and transmitted by the bite of infected mites. There is lack of awareness about the disease. Therefore it remains undiagnosed several times. The areas with high moisture and filled with wild grass are grounds for these mites.”
“It is usually said that the disease is found only in hilly areas but the cases are increasing here too. The cases are coming from other parts of Punjab too. If the disease is left untreated, a patient can suffer from many complications resulting in various organ failures. A few deaths have also been reported here due to this disease in the past two years,” Dr Oberoi, who along with other doctors conducted this study, said.
Dr Oberoi added that many times the disease was not diagnosed due to limited awareness, low index of suspicion among clinicians and lack of diagnostic facilities. But if there was an eschar on the body of patient, then test to diagnose scrub typhus should be conducted, she said.
Dr Shreen R Verghese, assistant professor of microbiology and two professors of medicine department - Dr Mary John and Dr Anna Mani - were also part of the study.
Look out for
Eschar at the site of bite by mite