Scrub Typhus Fever

There are two similar sounding names of bacterial diseases viz. the Typhus and Typhoid. The origin of both of these terms is Greek root typhos which means hazy. While both are bacteria caused diseases, the causing bacteria are different. While Typhus is caused by bacteria of Rickettsia family, Typhoid is caused by Salmonella Typhi.

The scrub Typhus disease had been endemic to the so called tsutsugamushi triangle that includes Japan, Taiwan, China, and South Korea. In recent times, this disease has been reported in India in almost all parts of the country. A few weeks ago it was reported in some areas of Delhi also, thus gaining media attention. Here are some notable observations about this disease:

  • The disease is transmitted by a mite found in scrubs. The mite Leptotrombidium deliense, inhabits sharply demarcated areas in the soil, where the micro ecosystem is favourable. When human beings trespass the area, mite larvae, or chiggers, attack them, transferring the pathogen Orientia tsutsugamushi, and leaving characteristic spots like those by cigarette burns, on the body. Its not a fatal disease, but can become fatal if left untreated. The disease usually occurs in mammals, particularly field mice and rodents.
  • In our country, there is no mechanism to record the prevalence of this disease so, we have no data on number of people affected. The dizsease has been reported from at least Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra P states including Andhra pradesh, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, West Bengal, Sikkim, Uttarakhand, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
  • The major symptoms of this disease include fever, severe headache, rash, cough, sore throat and abdominal pain.
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