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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 142  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 591-597

Outbreak of scrub typhus in Puducherry & Tamil Nadu during cooler months


1 Department of Microbiology, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institute, Puducherry, India
2 Indira Gandhi Government General Hospital & Post Graduate Institute, Puducherry, India
3 Department of Pediatrics, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institute, Puducherry, India
4 Department of Medicine, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institute, Puducherry, India

Correspondence Address:
Selvaraj Stephen
Department of Microbiology, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institute, Pondy- Cuddalore Main Road, Pillaiyarkuppam, Puducherry 607 402
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0971-5916.171289

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Background & objectives: The southern part of India has witnessed an increase in scrub typhus (ST) during the past ten years. ST outbreaks occurred during winter months but at intervals of one to three years. With only a few reports of ST in Puducherry, this study was undertaken to look for the persistence of ST cases in Puducherry and Tamil Nadu in the winter months. Methods: During relatively cooler months of September, 2012 to March, 2013, a total of 45 patients with fever and clinical suspicion of ST and who provided both acute and convalescent blood samples were included. Total WBC, platelet counts, serum creatinine, liver enzymes levels and a rapid immunochromatographic test (RICT) for ST were first done. Paired serum samples were analysed by two specific tests - ST IgM and IgG ELISA- and a non-specific, but widely used Weil-Felix (WF) test. Results:Of the 45 patients, 21 adults and seven children were confirmed as ST based on clinical and laboratory findings, and positivity in specific serological test(s). Setting ST IgM and IgG ELISA as reference, the sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value (PPV) and negative predictive value (NPV) for RICT were 91.67, 85.71 per cent; 90.48, 100 per cent; 91.67, 100 per cent and 90.48, 80.95 per cent, respectively. Similarly, for WF the values were 83.33, 75 per cent; 95.24, 100 per cent; 95.24, 100 per cent and 83.33, 70.83 per cent, respectively. Interpretation & conclusions: ST continues to persist in the cooler months in Puducherry and neighbouring Tamil Nadu with fever and myalgia as prominent features. None of the tests evaluated in this study was found to be ideal, but ST IgM/IgG ELISA was useful for batch testing and the non-specific WF test can be used in resource poor settings.


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