Second death due to scrub typhus in Kerala All about the disease, its symptoms and treatment

The second death of scrub typhus occurred on Sunday after a 38-year-old woman died at the Government Medical College Hospital in Kerala. Three days ago on June 9, a 15-year-old girl was the first to die of the disease in the state.

According to officials, Subita from Thiruvananthapuram was admitted to the hospital on the morning of June 10. “He was brought here on June 10, but died this morning. As of now, we do not have any such case,” a senior source in the hospital told PTI.

After the first death in Varkala, Health Minister Veena George had directed a special medical team to visit the patient’s native place and the hospital where he was admitted. The minister had said in a statement that steps would be taken to strengthen guards and destroy ticks in the affected areas.

What is scrub typhus?

The disease called ‘chelu water’ in the local language is caused by a mite-borne bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi. The disease is transmitted from animals such as rats, squirrels and rabbits to humans by chigger mites, the larval stage.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most cases of scrub typhus occur in rural areas of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, China, Japan, India and northern Australia. Anyone living in or traveling to these areas can become infected.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC describes common symptoms of illness as fever, headache, body aches, and sometimes a rash. Symptoms begin within 10 days of being bitten. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • fever and chills
  • Headache
  • Body aches and muscle aches
  • a dark, scaly area at the site of the bite
  • Mental changes, from confusion to coma
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • rash.

According to the CDC, severe disease can cause organ failure and bleeding, which can be fatal. Symptoms can be similar to those of other diseases.

What is the treatment?

Scrub typhus should be treated with the antibiotic doxycycline. Antibiotics are most effective when given soon after symptoms begin. There is no vaccine available to prevent the disease and the risk can be reduced by avoiding contact with infected chiggers.

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