Health authorities in UP's Mathura district have sounded alarm after 29 patients tested positive for mite-borne rickettsiosis, also known as 'scrub typhus'.
The 29 patients, aged between 2 and 45 years of age are being treated for the infection with no fatalities recorded among them, reported IANS.
"Required medicines have been provided to the patients and none of them is critical. We have issued an alert regarding its spread to other districts."A.K. Singh, Additional Director of Health Department in Mathura was quoted as saying by IANS.
Although this is the first time the infection has surfaced in the district, India is no stranger to Scrub Typhus, with breakouts periodically reported in different parts of the country.
What is scrub typhus? How does it spread, and is it a cause for concern? FIT breaks it down.
What is Scrub Typhus?
According to the US CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention), scrub typhus is caused by bacteria called Orientia tsutsugamushi.
The bacterial infection is spread through bites of the Trombiculidae mites, also called red mites, chiggers, or scrub-itch mites.
Common symptoms of the infection can include,
Fever and chills
Body rashes (sometimes)
a Dark spot or scab on the site of the bite
Enlarged lymph nodes
In serious cases it can also result in pneumonitis, encephalitis, congestive heart failure or even lead to a coma.
The US CDC also says that the infection most commonly occurs in rural areas, especially in South Asian countries, including India.
Because the symptoms of scrub typhus are commonly seen in other infections and illnesses, it can be hard to diagnose it simply on the basis of the symptoms.
Laboratory tests of blood samples are the most effective way of detecting the bacteria.
Is the outbreak a cause for concern?
Scrub Typhus doesn't spread from person to person, only through the bite of infected chigger mites.
Although there is no vaccine for the infection, it is treatable.
According to the US CDC, a patient of scrub typhus should be treated with the antibiotic Doxycycline. The antibiotic is most effective when given close to the onset of the symptoms.
"Early diagnosis is important. Patients are put on antibiotics and they recover fully after a week-long course of treatment."A.K. Singh, Additional Director of Health Department, as quoted by IANS
(Written with inputs from IANS)