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15 year old girl succumbs to scrub typhus in Kerala

- June 9, 2022

Thiruvananthapuram, June 9, BPNS

A 15-year-old girl has succumbed to scrub typhus in the state. The deceased was identified as Aswathy of Cherunniyur, Marakkadamukku in Varkala, Thiruvananthapuram. As per reports, she was undergoing treatment for the past one week and she had a high fever. In the wake of the incident, state health minister Veena George said that a special team will visit the place and will initiate chigger control measures.

“The team from the district medical office will visit Cherunniyur and Parippally medical college hospital. A preliminary data collection has already been carried out. Getting people aware of the disease is important and activities in this regard have been initiated,” said Veena.

Scrub typhus, also known as bush typhus, is a zoonotic disease caused by a bacteria called Orientia tsutsugamushi. Scrub typhus is spread to people through bites of infected chiggers (larval mites). The most common symptoms of scrub typhus include fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes rash. Also, if left untreated it might turn fatal as it will result in organ failure and bleeding.

“People usually get infected when they visit ecological niche called as Mite islands – the favored areas where these mites and their chigger (larvae) thrive,” reads an excerpt from the National Centre for Disease Control’s document.

As per it, such favored areas include poorly maintained kitchen gardens, abandoned plantations, overgrown forest clearings, shrubby fringes of fields and forests, grassy fields, river banks, and sandy beaches. Mites are also present in the body of animals such as mice and rats.

“If one has an acute undifferentiated febrile illness with fever more than five days and if not dengue, malaria and typhoid, then suspect its scrub typhus. It’s usually confirmed by serological test or molecular diagnosis or by isolation of the organism. There is no vaccine to prevent the disease and if contracted it is treated with antibiotics doxycycline and azithromycin.

According to the health department, the first cases of scrub typhus in the state were reported in the Thiruvananthapuram district in the year 2000. The state also deals with cases of scrub typhus meningoencephalitis among children.

The state on Wednesday reported four confirmed cases of scrub typhus. In this month itself, 12 confirmed cases were reported. In the case of cumulative confirmed cases in the year, 129 cases were reported.