Scrub typhus: All you need to know about mystery infection being reported in UP
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scrub typhus is a disease caused by a bacteria called Orientia tsutsugamushi. Symptoms include fever and chills, headache, body aches, rashes and muscle pain.
Mathura in western Uttar Pradesh have reported cases of a mystery fever, which has been identified as scrub typhus, Hindustan Times' sister publication Livehindustan reported. The disease has affected more than two dozen people in the district.
The medical teams took samples from people in Koh village of Mathura district after reports of infection from the area. These samples were later found to be infected with scrub typhus, according to Livehindustan report.
What is scrub typhus?
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scrub typhus is a disease caused by a bacteria called Orientia tsutsugamushi. It is also known as bush typhus.
The infection spreads to people through bites of infected chiggers (larval mites).
What are the symptoms?
The symptoms of scrub typhus are similar to symptoms of many other vector-borne or rickettsial diseases and usually begin within 10 days of being bitten, according to CDC. These include fever and chills, headache, body aches, rashes and muscle pain.
The site where the chigger bites develops a dark, scab-like region, which is also known as eschar. After contracting the infection, a person can experience mental changes, ranging from confusion to coma, according to CDC.
Some of the patients also develop joint pains, which is characteristic of chikungunya. The infection can lead to respiratory distress, inflammation of the brain and the lungs, kidney failure and then multi-organ failure, ultimately leading to death.
Is there a vaccine available for scrub typhus?
According to CDC, no vaccine is available to prevent scrub typhus. It suggested that the risk of contracting the infection by avoiding contact with infected chiggers.
The agency also said that when travelling to regions where scrub typhus is common, people should avoid areas with lots of vegetation and brush where chiggers may be found.
Apart from India, cases of scrub typhus have been reported from rural areas of Indonesia, China, Japan and northern Australia.
How to treat the infection?
The CDC says that if someone gets infected by scrub typhus, the person should be treated with the antibiotic doxycycline. People who are treated early with doxycycline usually recover quickly, according to the agency.
The CDC further advises people to dress children in clothing that covers arms and legs, or cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting in order to keep scrub typhus at bay. It also asked them to treat clothing and gear with 0.5% permethrin as it kills chiggers.