What is Scrub Typhus & how it spreads? Odisha Government on alert after cases surge in state

Scrub typhus is a potentially deadly infectious disease that has been on the rise in recent times in India.

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In recent times, India has witnessed a concerning rise in cases of scrub typhus, a potentially deadly infectious disease.

What is Scrub Typhus?

Scrub typhus is a potentially deadly infectious disease that has been on the rise in recent times in India.

Transmission of Scrub Typhus:

The transmission of scrub typhus primarily occurs during the larval stage of chiggers, when they acquire the infection from wild rodents or other small animals. When a mite larva bites a person, the infection is passed on.

Recognizing the Symptoms:

Symptoms of scrub typhus typically manifest about 10 to 12 days after being bitten by an infected mite. Here are some key indicators to watch out for:

High Fever with Chills

The disease often begins with a sudden high fever accompanied by chills. This initial symptom can be quite alarming.

Severe Headache

Individuals may experience an intense and persistent headache, which can significantly impact their daily lives.

Dry Cough

A dry, persistent cough can develop as the infection progresses, causing discomfort and irritation.

Body Aches and Muscle Pain

Generalized body aches and muscle pain are common symptoms of scrub typhus, making individuals feel fatigued and unwell.

Skin Lesions

A reddish or pinkish lesion appears at the site of the mite bite. Additionally, a pinkish rash may develop on the trunk, arms, and legs about a week after the fever starts.

Lymph Node Enlargement

Swollen lymph glands are often observed, indicating the body's immune response to the infection.

Ocular Symptoms

Some patients may experience red eyes, which can be a distinctive sign of scrub typhus.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Scrub typhus can lead to gastrointestinal problems, including abdominal pain and diarrhea.

Liver and Spleen Enlargement

In some cases, enlargement of the liver and spleen may occur, requiring medical attention.

Moreover, individuals engaged in gardening and outdoor activities are at a higher risk of contracting scrub typhus due to their increased exposure to the mites' natural habitats.

Odisha Government on alert after cases surge in the state:

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The Odisha government has directed district authorities to step up tracking amid the discovery of 59 H3N2 cases in the state in the last two months.

The government has also issued a warning to the public to practice good hygiene and avoid congested areas. The state has intensified surveillance at the health facility and community levels in order to control the spread of the infectious disease.

According to reports, the state collected 225 samples in January and February, 59 of which tested positive for H3N2, a non-human influenza virus.

Preventing Scrub Typhus:

Prevention is crucial since there is no vaccine available for scrub typhus. To minimize the risk of infection, consider the following strategies:

Rodent Control

Focus on controlling rodents in and around your living spaces, as they are hosts to the mites responsible for transmitting the disease.

Maintain Cleanliness

Practicing good hygiene, including regular handwashing, is essential to preventing the spread of scrub typhus.

Pet Care

Be cautious when handling pets, as they can carry infected mites. Regularly check your pets for any signs of infestation.

Mite Repellents

Apply mite repellents to exposed skin when venturing into areas prone to chigger infestations. This is especially important for individuals in high-risk regions.

Environmental Cleanup

Regularly clean your surroundings, including removing shrubs and low vegetation that can harbor chiggers. Keep your living spaces tidy and free from potential mite habitats.

Protecting Children:

If you have a baby or young child, take additional precautions:

•Dress your child in clothing that covers their arms and legs, reducing the risk of mite bites.

•Use mosquito netting to cover cribs, strollers, and baby carriers to create a protective barrier.

•Avoid applying insect repellent directly to a child's hands, eyes, mouth, or irritated skin. Instead, adults should apply repellent to their hands and then gently apply it to the child's face.

Diagnosis and Treatment:

To diagnose scrub typhus, patients undergo an ELISA test if they experience a fever for several days. This test is readily available at the public health laboratories of district headquarters hospitals. Early diagnosis is crucial as it enables effective treatment.

The recommended treatment for scrub typhus, as endorsed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), involves the use of the antibiotic doxycycline. This antibiotic is suitable for individuals of all ages. When administered promptly, doxycycline leads to swift recovery in most cases.

Historical Perspective:

Scrub typhus has a historical presence in Southeast Asia, northern Australia, and Japan. It was first described in Japan in 1899 and underwent systematic investigation from 1906 to 1932. During World War II, scrub typhus posed a significant threat, causing illness and incapacitating troops stationed in rural or jungle areas in the Pacific.