Officials in Delhi, India are reporting 48 scrub typhus cases treated in four large hospitals in Delhi (Safdarjung hospital, Sir Ganga Ram hospital, Moolchand Medicity and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS))  since July, according to a local media report.

Indian subcontinent/CIA
Indian subcontinent/CIA

“The number of infection goes up during the monsoons every year. Between January and July this year, around 2% of the samples that were tested were found to be positive. In August and September, this jumped to 10%. Over the years, the number of cases being detected has gone up in Delhi because of increasing awareness and more physicians testing for the disease,” said Rama Chaudhary, professor of microbiology at AIIMS.

Diagnosis of scrub typhus is often missed as the infection mimics symptoms of common monsoon infections, such as dengue and chikungunya.

Scrub typhus, caused by the bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi, which is transmitted by chiggers encountered in high grass and brush, is endemic in northern Japan, Southeast Asia, the western Pacific Islands, eastern Australia, China, maritime areas and several parts of south-central Russia, India, and Sri Lanka.

After being bitten by the chigger, an eschar will form over the bite, and the incubation period usually ranges from 9 to 12 days.   Subsequently, symptoms such as fever, headache, sweating and swelling or inflammation of the lymph gland will begin to develop.

After having had fever for about 1 week, a dark red papule will appear in the trunk, spread to extremities, and disappear after several days.

Complications of untreated scrub typhus include swelling of the lungs, brain encephalitis, renal failure or even heart problems.