The Health Department has issued an alert against scrub typhus, an infection being reported widely from Thiruvananthapuram, Kollam, Kozhikode, Wayanad, Idukki and Kasaragod districts.

The zoonotic infectious disease (spread from animals to humans) is spread by the bite of chigger, a microscopic mite. The bite transmits the organism Orientia tsutsugamushi (earlier known as Rickettsia tsutsugamushi), which causes the infection. The mite is usually present in shrubberies, and the disease is transmitted mostly during the rainy season and in winter.

Given its increasing incidence in the State, scrub typhus has been included on the list of infectious diseases under close surveillance and reported through the State’s Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme since January 2012. Scrub typhus is easily treatable with antibiotics, but late or wrong diagnosis can lead to liver or renal failure, circulatory collapse and even death, doctors warn. The disease is the third common infectious disease in Thiruvananthapuram district, after dengue and leptospirosis. The disease presents itself as persistent fever and generalised body pain or headache. It can be recognised by the sores or scabs on the skin. The Health Department will organise workshops across the State, a statement issued by the Director of Health Service said.

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