Mon, Mar 28, 2016 - Page 3 News List

CDC warns of snake, scrub typhus threats

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday advised the public to apply insect repellent and wear trousers and long-sleeved shirts when walking in rural or mountainous areas during the upcoming Tomb Sweeping Festival, as the prevalence of scrub typhus — a mite-borne infectious disease — often sees an uptick in April.

Scrub typhus is caused by the bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi and is transmitted by the bite of a chigger, the centers said.

The incubation period of scrub typhus is about nine to 12 days, with symptoms including a persistent high fever, headaches, swollen lymph nodes and a rash that begins about one week after the fever. An eschar — a dry, dark scab or falling away of dead skin — often develops at the site of the chigger bite, the centers said.

An increase in scrub typhus cases begins to reported in April and May which peaks in June and July, the the centers said, adding that according to data from 2013 to last year, Penghu County, Taitung County and Kinmen County had the most reported cases.

In addition to hundreds of scrub typhus cases reported every year, the centers said that more than 1,000 snake bites are reported every year, and that snakes begin to become more active in March.

Poisonous snakes most commonly seen in Taiwan include the Chinese green tree viper, the pointed-scaled pit viper and the Chinese sharp-nosed viper — commonly known as the “hundred-pacer” — the banded krait and the common cobra and the Russell’s viper, it said.

In order to prevent both scrub typhus and snakes, the centers advises people to wear light colors and apply government-approved insect repellent, and refrain from staying in overgrown areas for too long.

People bitten by poisonous snakes should try to remember the snake’s shape and color, remain calm and get to a hospital as soon as possible, the centers said.

A makeshift bandage can be made with a sock or other elasticated material, and a splint can be formed from a stick or other piece of available wood, while wounded limbs should be raised above the heart, the centers added.

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