Scrub typhus outbreak: The monsoon season, though a welcome respite from intense heat, ushers in a spectrum of bacterial and waterborne diseases. A bacterial infection, scrub typhus, has recently emerged as a threat in Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh. Reportedly, the disease has caused the death of 5 individuals, with over 700 confirmed cases.
Details: Scrub typhus, a bacterial infection, is caused by ‘Orientia tsutsugamushi’. Transmitted to humans by mites residing in areas with dense vegetation, the disease sees an uptick during the rainy season, especially in hilly terrains. Symptoms range from fever, headaches, muscle pain, and rashes to swollen lymph nodes. A unique symptom is an eschar, a necrotic tissue lesion at the mite bite site. If left untreated, scrub typhus can escalate, causing organ dysfunction, including respiratory and renal failure.
Dr Neha Rastogi of Fortis Memorial Research Institute in Gurugram highlights the challenges of diagnosing scrub typhus. Symptoms overlap with other monsoon diseases such as malaria and dengue, which complicates the diagnosis process. Vulnerable populations include residents of rural or forested regions and those indulging in outdoor activities like farming or camping in areas where the disease is endemic.
Preventive measures include wearing protective clothing, using insect repellents, and staying clear of dense vegetation zones. Effective treatment involves early diagnosis followed by a course of antibiotics, specifically doxycycline or azithromycin. Dr Samrat Shah of Bhatia Hospital, Mumbai, emphasized the importance of medical intervention if one suspects an infection.
In conclusion, while scrub typhus poses a grave health risk, timely diagnosis and treatment substantially mitigate complications and fatalities.