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Scrub Typhus in India

25 Sep 2012

An outbreak of scrub typhus has been reported by the media in two states in the north-west of India. 

Since 22 August 2012, 30 deaths from suspected scrub typhus have occurred in Alwar district with a further 6 deaths in patients with similar signs of infection in Dausa district, Rajasthan state. The Health Department has sought assistance from the National Centre for Disease Control in New Delhi. A team dispatched to the affected area is collecting samples in order to confirm the infection.

A total of 155 confirmed cases of scrub typhus has been reported from Himachal Pradesh state. Ten individuals have died from the infection in the Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital.

Advice for Travellers

Scrub typhus is an infection caused by a rickettsia-like bacteria. The infection is transmitted by mites and rats or mice may act as reservoirs. Humans may become infected in areas where the mites and rodents are present, most often areas of low-lying scrub brush or transitional vegetation.

Travellers should be aware of the risk of scrub typhus in these popular tourist destinations, particularly those visiting rural areas who should avoid close contact with this type of vegetation. The skin should be protected with clothing (ideally permethrin treated) and DEET insect repellent on exposed skin.