Fri, Mar 27, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Kaohsiung issues scrub typhus alert

By Hung Ting-hung and Chen Wei-han  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

There have been 31 confirmed cases of scrub typhus in the nation this year, a number that is expected to increase over the coming months and peak in July, with the fatality rate in untreated cases as high as 60 percent, Kaohsiung’s Department of Health said earlier this week.

The infectious disease is transmitted through the bite of mites that carry the intracellular parasite Orientia tsutsugamushi.

The mites are particularly active in mountainous areas with heavy scrub vegetation and bite people as well as animals.

The bite leaves a characteristic black scab that can be used in diagnosis. Symptoms include fever, headache, sweating, reddened eyes and inflamed lymph nodes, and typically begin after an incubation period of nine to 12 days, the department said.

After about a week of fever, a red spotted rash develops on the torso and spreads to the arms and legs, the department said.

As Tomb Sweeping Day draws near, the department recommends people wear long-sleeve shirts and pants in light colors with gloves and boots when going into mountains to tend graves.

A reputable insect repellent should be applied to naked skin to deter mites, the department said, adding that taking a shower and changing clothes immediately after returning home can dislodge clinging mites.

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