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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 144  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 901-909

Scrub typhus in Uttarakhand & adjoining Uttar Pradesh: Seasonality, clinical presentations & predictors of mortality

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Yenepoya Medical College, Mangaluru, India
2 Department of Medicine, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dehradun, India
3 Department of Microbiology, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dehradun, India
4 Department of Critical Care Medicine, Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Dehradun, India

Correspondence Address:
Anurag Bhargava
Department of Internal Medicine, Yenepoya Medical College, University Road, Deralakatte, Mangaluru 575 018, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_1764_15

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Background & objectives: Scrub typhus is a re-emerging mite-borne rickettsiosis, which continues to be underdiagnosed, with lethal consequences. The present study was conducted to determine the seasonality, clinical presentation and predictors of mortality in patients with scrub typhus at a tertiary care teaching hospital in northern India. Methods: Scrub typhus was suspected in patients attending the hospital as per the standard case definition and serological evidence was obtained by performing an IgM ELISA. Results: A total of 284 patients with scrub typhus from urban and rural areas were seen, predominantly from July to November. The most common clinical presentation was a bilateral community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), which resembled pneumonia due to atypical pathogens and often progressed to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). An acute undifferentiated febrile illness (AUFI) or a febrile illness associated with altered sensorium, aseptic meningitis, shock, abdominal pain, gastrointestinal bleeding or jaundice was also seen. Eschars were seen in 17 per cent of patients, and thrombocytopenia, transaminitis and azotaemia were frequent. There were 24 deaths (8.5%) caused predominantly by ARDS and multi-organ dysfunction. The mortality in patients with ARDS was high (37%). ARDS [odds ratio (OR)=38.29, 95% confidence interval (CI): 9.93, 147.71] and acute kidney injury (OR=8.30, 95% CI: 2.21, 31.21) were the major predictors of death. Interpretation & conclusions: The present findings indicate that scrub typhus may be considered a cause of CAP, ARDS, AUFI or a febrile illness with multisystem involvement, in Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh, especially from July to November. Empiric therapy of CAP may include doxycycline or azithromycin to ensure coverage of underlying unsuspected scrub typhus.

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