Cases of Scrub Thypus on rise in plains of Pb, Haryana

Chandigarh: Cases of Scrub Typhus, a disease found in areas of heavy scrub vegetation and rare in plains, has been on the rise in urban locales of Punjab and Haryana with many cases reported this month at PGIMER here.

Caused by the bite of an infected mite, the Scrub Typhus disease which is normally found in the hilly regions has now started spreading in plains as well, a doctor in Postgraduate Institute for Medical Research has said.

"PGI received 40 blood samples from adults as well as children which were confirmed to be Scrub Typhus during the month of August. There has been no death," Sunil Sethi, Additional Professor, Department of Medical Microbiology, PGIMER, said.

Sethi said the institute had received the first case of Scrub Typhus last year and a total number of 80 cases were reported during the period of August and September this year.

"Scrub typhus has been reported from various regions of India, especially the hilly regions of the Himalayas, Shimla, Assam, West Bengal, but the interesting finding is that many of these cases reporting in PGIMER are from urban locales -- Chandigarh, Punjab and Haryana," he said.

Symptoms of the disease include fever, vomiting, respiratory distress and altered sensorium.
Severe Scrub typhus usually presents as multiple organ damage including inflammation of the heart, acute respiratory distress syndrome, hepatitis, renal failure encephalitis and septic shock, Sethi said.

"Scrub typhus is diagnosed with difficulty because of its non-specific, varied clinical presentation, long list of differential diagnosis and non availability of recommended serological tests at the primary healthcare level," he said.

The disease is caused due to bacteria known as Orientia Tsutsugamushi that inhabits with mites belonging to the species Leptotrombidium Akamushi (chiggers mite).

The infection is called Scrub Typhus because it generally occurs after exposure to areas with scrub vegetation.

Human beings are infected accidentally, usually during rainy season. The site bitten by mite forms an eschar which resembles skin burn from a cigarette butt.

The lesions are painless and without any itching sensation in most cases, causing the infection to be undetected by most patients.