It is the time of the year when doctors see a spike in fever cases. While the number of dengue cases is reportedly higher compared to last year, the officials of the Health Department in Tiruchi are now concerned about scrub typhus fever, a zoonotic disease caused by bacteria.
The disease caught attention after five cases were detected at Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital during a special screening on fever patients, a few months back.
According to a senior official, since January, around 10 scrub typhus cases were reported, and six patients with the symptoms of the disease are currently undergoing treatment in the district.
“It is an undifferentiated febrile illness. High-grade fever, body pain and eschar at the site of the bite are common symptoms. It even affects the central nervous system and causes encephalitis, eventually leading to multiple organ failure and death,” an official said.
Scrub typhus is a disease caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi bacteria and it is transmitted to people through bites of infected larval mites. The mites are mainly found in grassy fields, gardens, and unhygienic environments, officials said.
“During the screening, the doctors detected five cases and they were treated with antibiotics, which led to recovery. The patients had symptoms of fever, body pain and eschar, at the site of the bite,” said Dean D. Nehru.
“Every month, one or two patients are admitted with symptoms of scrub typhus. But, as of now, there are no confirmed cases of scrub typhus fever at the hospital. All precautions have been taken, and fever patients are being monitored to check for symptoms of the disease,” he added.
With the onset of monsoon and a spike in flu cases, people should look out for the symptoms of scrub typhus as well. This way, it may be treated at an early stage with antibiotics and continuous monitoring, Dr. Nehru said.