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Uttar Pradesh: Now, rare Scrub Typhus virus alarms health department

60% AES patients in UP test positive for Scrub Typhus; director infectious diseases asks CMOs to stock up specific antibiotics.

lucknow Updated: Sep 14, 2017 16:09 IST
Gaurav Saigal
Gaurav Saigal
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
Uttar Pradesh,Scrub Typhus virus,Azithromycin/Doxycyclin

Already battling with rising cases of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES), doctors have stumbled upon a rare virus in 60% of AES patients in Uttar Pradesh.

  • Incidence of Scrub Typhus is higher among rural population.
  • Patients are likely to have had exposure to rodents at home or at work
  • They are also usually involved in occupational (farming) or recreational activities that expose them to the risk of encountering chiggers sitting on grass blades, bushes and shrubs.
  • The disease is seasonal in many parts of India, which is correlated with the appearance and activity of mites.
  • Scrub typhus can occur in areas where scrub vegetation - consisting of low lying trees and bushes - is encountered, and also in habitats as diverse as banks of rivers, rice fields, poorly maintained kitchen gardens and grassy lawns -- all of which can be inhabited by chiggers. This is common in Gorakhpur region.

Alarmed, the officials have sent a missive to all hospitals to beef up their stock of a specific antibiotic that would help them contain the spread of Scrub Typhus virus.

In a circular issued to the chief medical officers of all the districts in the state, the director for infectious diseases has stated that as antibiotics Azithromycin/Doxycyclin work for AES patients who have tested positive for Scrub Typhus, they should be maintained in stock.

Though AES is a particular problem of Gorakhpur region, health officials say that the disease or the patients could travel, so, a minimum stock of these antibiotics should be maintained to avoid any problems to people.

“About 60% of AES cases have tested positive for Scrub Typhus. This fact has been considered by the National Centre for Disease Control of the union health ministry,” said Dr Badri Vishal, director infectious diseases, Uttar Pradesh.

AES has been troubling children in eastern Uttar Pradesh, especially in districts of Gorakhpur, Maharajganj, Deoria, and Kushinagar.

Scrub typhus is the commonest occurring Rickettsial infection in India. The infection is transmitted through the larval mites or chiggers. Small rodents, particularly wild rats of subgenus Rattus, are natural hosts for Scrub Typhus. Field rodents and vector mites act as reservoirs, and between the two the infection perpetuates in nature.

According to a study of the Indian Council of Medical Research, chiggers -- too small to be seen by the naked eye -- usually feed on rodents and accidentally on humans, thus transmitting the infection during the prolonged feeding period, which can last 1-3 days.

First Published: Sep 14, 2017 16:09 IST