Scrub typhus tightens grip; 6 die, 801test +ve

People working in fields at risk of picking up infection

Kuldeep Chauhan

Shimla, September 19

With death toll mounting to six and the number of patients reaching 801 today, the outbreak of scrub typhus in Bilaspur, Hamirpur,  Shimla, Kangra and Mandi districts continue to give sleepless nights to  health officials and patients this year.

Of six deaths, three were reported from  Shimla, two in Mandi and one in Bilaspur.  In 2018, the toll was 18 while 1,106 patients suffered from the disease.  More than 125 patients of the 5,500, who tested positive for scrub typhus, have died  in five years. “The cause of the death is delay in starting of treatment,” observed Dr Jatinder Kumer Mokta, professor of medicine, Indira Gandhi Medical College and Hospital, in a study here. 

“All patients, who complain of high fever, body ache and restlessness should take scrub typhus medicines regardless of diagnosis before, during and after the rains,” he added. 

Dr Mokta said if the scrub typhus was not treated within two or three days, the infection could result in multi-organ failure and the treatment was ineffective. Unlike malaria and typhoid, scrub typhus was a rapidly progressing disease that damaged kidney, heart, liver and other vital organs, he added. 

This year, 801 patients of the 7,997 tested in various district laboratories  have been diagnosed positive.  They include 240 cases in Bilaspur, 159 in Hamirpur, 107 in Shimla, 96 in Kangra, 77 in Mandi and 57 in Solan, 34 in Kullu, 11 in Una, 8 in Sirmaur and one in Kinnaur district and no case was reported from Lahaul-Spiti this year.   “The number can go up as the grass-cutting in the rural areas has picked up in September and October. People go in the wilds for grass-cutting after the rains where they catch the infection following bite by infected mites present in the grass that feed on rats,” said Dr Sonam Negi, the state diseases surveillance officer.

Health Minister Vipin Parmar said they had been able to minimise the death count this year due to increase in awareness among the public.   

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