The Taiwan Centers for Disease Control (Taiwan CDC) is advising the public to take precautions against scrub typhus when visiting chigger-infested areas such as bush areas with the upcoming Qingming Festival (also known as Pure Brightness Festival or Tomb-sweeping Day) next weekend.

Image depicts an adult and a larval chigger poised on the head of a pin/CDC

Qingming Festival of 2015 falls on April 5.

Some of the prevention measures include wearing protective clothing such as long-sleeve shirts and pants, applying insect repellents to exposed skin to prevent chigger bites, and changing clothes and taking a shower immediately after a visit to the bush area to reduce the risk of infection.

According to Taiwan CDC’s surveillance data, scrub typhus cases are reported throughout the year in Taiwan, which usually begin to increase during April and May and peak in July. During 2011 and 2014, Penghu County, Kinmen County, and Taitung County reported comparatively higher scrub typhus incidence.

Scrub typhus is a disease that is transmitted by chiggers. Chiggers like to stay at the tips of weeds, waiting for an opportunity to attach to passing humans or animals. Therefore, the chance of becoming infected with scrub typhus is much higher when people walk through bush areas.

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.