14 killed by rare Scrub Typhus virus, medical fraternity alarmed


A new virus known as Scrub Typhus has left the Indian medical fraternity considerably alarmed after it killed 14 people in Himachal Pradesh alone in 2017.

The latest victim of the disease is a 45-year-old woman from Rampur in Shimla district. Purna Devi was admitted in the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, where she died on Thursday evening.

She died during treatment for Scrub Typhus, Senior Medical Superintendent Dr Romesh was quoted by PTI.

The number of death at the IGMC has risen to 13 while one patient died at the Tanda Medical College in Kangra district, he said.

“So far, 300 patients admitted to IGMC have tested positive of Scrub Typhus that spreads from an insect found in grass during and after the monsoon,” the official said.

In Uttar Pradesh, which has been battling to contain Acute Encephalitis Syndrome cases, has discovered that nearly 60% of AES patients have been affected by Scrub Typhus virus. The alarmed health officials have written to hospitals across the state to keep the stock of antibiotics ready to deal with more discoveries of such cases.

In a circular issued to the chief medical officers of all the districts in the state, the director for infectious diseases has stated that as antibiotics Azithromycin/Doxycyclin work for AES patients who have tested positive for Scrub Typhus, they should be maintained in stock, reported Hindustan Times.

Dr Badri Vishal, director infectious diseases, said, “About 60% of AES cases have tested positive for Scrub Typhus. This fact has been considered by the National Centre for Disease Control of the union health ministry.”

In Himachal Pradesh, the state health department has distributed pamphlets and posters to raise awareness on the disease and asked people to seek timely treatment.

A report by Indian Express said that the scrub typhus or mite-borne typhus was an infectious disease caused by the biting of a specific type of bacteria called (Orientia tsutsugamushi), spread and maintained by the larvae (chiggers) of mites. The bite of this mite leaves a characteristic black eschar that helps the doctor for diagnosis of the disease.

As a precautionary measure, the doctors have advised general public to avoid places where mites are known to be present in a large number, wear protective clothing when travelling to an endemic area, use of mite repellents to exposed skin.