A Comprehensive information on causes, prevention and treatment of Scrub Typhus disease

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Scrub Typhus is a disease of bacterial origin, caused by bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi, transferred in human beings through the bites of infected larval mites.

This Disease is mainly found in rural areas of Southeast Asia, India, Japan and Northern Australia1

Larval mites (Chiggers) serve as a vector or vehicle for transmission of scrub typhus in human beings, so it becomes very important to protect our body from the bites of chiggers. 

Symptoms

It takes around 10 days1 for the symptoms to appear. Prominent symptoms may include.

  • Fever (often high and persistent) 
  • Eschar (a dark colored spot at the site of chigger bite) 
  • Rashes  
  • Headache 
  • Muscle pain and body ache 
  • Nausea and vomiting 
  • Cough and breathing difficulty 
  • Swelling of lymph nodes near the site of chigger bite 
  • Mental confusion and coma (severe cases) 
  • Organ Failure (severe cases) 

Treatment

It is important to consult a registered physician or healthcare professional for medical advice and treatment, after u feel the above-mentioned symptoms. Self-medication should be avoided.

Your physician can recommend or give your following treatment:

Antibiotics: Doxycycline is the most preferred antibiotic, with a good recovery profile. The dosage of the drug will be decided by your healthcare professional as per the severity, age and other factors. 

Azithromycin is generally used as an alternative to doxycycline. 

Antipyretics: Paracetamol may be advised by your physician to reduce fever and body ache. 

Intravenous fluids: It may be administered in cases where patient has severe vomiting and diarrhea. 

Hospital administration: In severe cases patients may be hospitalized.

Vaccine

Till date there is no vaccine approved for Scrub Typhus disease.

Prevention

The main point to keep in mind for the prevention of scrub typhus is to prevent our body from the bites of chiggers or the mites in their larval stage.

To prevent chigger bites, following preventive measures can be taken: 

Area: Avoid travelling in areas which have high cases of scrub typhus.

Clothing: Wear full protective clothing like long sleeves, full length pants, socks, shoes etc. to prevent mites from biting the skin. 

Insect Repellants: Application of approved insect repellants containing DEET on chigger exposed skin or clothing. 

Restricted movement: Avoid movement in areas having grass and brushes, which are the main residential hotspots of mites.

Permethrin: Use permethrin treated clothes, or apply 0.5% permethrin on clothing’s, boots and other protective items, as per the product instructions mentioned.

Permethrin treated clothes can be worn after multiple washings as per the specifications mentioned on the product.

Permethrin should be avoided from direct contact with skin, as it is intended to be used on clothing’s only. 

Cut grass and weeds: All the unwanted weeds shall be regularly removed near the house or adjoining gardens. The grasses and brushes shall be regularly cut to avoid chances of getting bites from mites. 

Personal Hygiene: Immediately change clothes after returning from grassy areas in outdoors. Inspect your body and clothing for any mites and take a shower.

Scrub typhus is typically caused by the bites of mites in larval stage, and it requires a combination of personal hygiene and above-mentioned measures to prevent this disease.  

Frequent travelers shall be well educated about this disease and must follow all protective measures possible. 

Reference

  1. Scrub Typhus | Typhus Fevers | CDC

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