Scrub Typhus which is also known as ‘Bush Typhus’ is a disease caused by bacteria called ‘Orientia tsutsugamushi’. Scrub typhus is spread to people through bites of infected ‘chiggers’ (larval mites). They are mostly found in areas of heavy scrub vegetation. Its origin can be traced back in the 1930’s in Japan and spread out to the far-eastern Russia and to the territories around the Solomon Sea into Northern Australia in the south and to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Orientia Tsutsugamushi is derived from Japanese word ‘tsutsuga’ which means illness and ‘mushi’ which means insect and in common language it can be described as ‘Insect Illness’.
The recent outbreak of Scrub typhus was witnessed in ‘Phullen village’ in Aizwal district which has been reported to infect around 47 people while killing one. Phullen village is 125 kilometres away from the district headquarters Aizwal which is the State capital of Mizoram. The first case of Scrub typhus virus in the State was detected last year in the month of November 2017 and the recent case was identified on January 2018. Apart from ‘Phullen Village’, it is noted that cases of scrub typhus infection have been detected in Chaphai, Aizwal and Lunglei districts also.
Symptoms of scrub typhus usually begin within 10 days of being bitten. The most common symptoms of scrub typhus include fever, headache, body aches, dark, scab-like region at the site of the chigger bite, mental changes, ranging from confusion to coma, enlarged lymph nodes and sometimes rash. Most cases of scrub typhus occur in rural areas of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, China, Japan, India and Northern Australia. Anyone living in or travelling to areas where scrub typhus is found could get infected.
There is no vaccine for preventing scrub typhus. But it can still be prevented by maintaining cleanliness and being aware of surroundings. Contact with the mite larvae can be prevented by not walking barefoot and sitting or lying directly on the ground. Insect repellent creams may also protect and homes and surroundings should be kept rodent-free.
With due concern for numbe of cases and deaths increasing at an alarming proportion in Northeastern state of Mizoram, Reporter Donboklang Wanniang from Eastern Panorama has contacted Dr. Pachuau Lalmalsawma MBBS, State Nodal Officer, IDSP Directorate of Health Services, to get an insight of this harmful virus. His full report is given below:
The Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) of Mizoram has been collecting data on cases from District and private hospitals since 2012. Due to various constraints, the number of recorded sero-positivity and deaths is estimated to be at a much larger scale than the reported status.
As recorded by IDSP, Mizoram, there has been an outbreak of the disease from various parts of the state during the past few years as listed below:
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