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Year : 2012  |  Volume : 136  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 1020-1024

Scrub typhus in patients reporting with acute febrile illness at a tertiary health care institution in Goa

1 Department of Medicine, Goa Medical College, Goa, India
2 Department of Microbiology, Goa Medical College, Goa, India
3 Department of Preventive & Social Medicine, Goa Medical College, Goa, India

Correspondence Address:
Kedareshwar PS Narvencar
Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, Goa Medical College, Bambolim, Goa 403 202
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

PMID: 23391799

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Background & objectives : Scrub typhus is one of the differential diagnoses of haemorrhagic fevers especially if associated with jaundice and/or renal failure. Goa State in the western region of India has been witnessing increased incidence of such fevers, therefore, the present study was undertaken to identify whether scrub typhus is the aetiological agent. Methods: Adult patients presenting with undiagnosed febrile illness between June 2009 to October 2010, were evaluated. Testing was done using a commercial ELISA kit for specific IgM antibodies against Orientia tsutsugamushi. Results: Of the 44 patients included in the study, 15 (34%) were found to be positive for IGM antibodies against O. tsutsugamushi. The cases were seen mainly in the months between July to November. The common symptoms noted were fever, myalgias, gastrointestinal complaints, followed by breathlessness, rash and jaundice. The pathognomonic features such as eschar and lymphadenopathy were seen only in two patients. Nearly two third of the patients had leukocytosis (67%) and low serum albumin (60%). The most common complication noticed was hepatitis (80%) followed by acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (60%), thrombocytopenia (40%) and acute renal failure (33%). Five patients died in the course of illness. Interpretation & conclusions : Our results showed that scrub typhus should be considered in the differential diagnosis of acute febrile illness associated with gastrointestinal symptoms, rash, myalgia , including those with organ dysfunctions such as hepatorenal syndrome, coagulopathy or ARDS. Empirical treatment with doxycycline or macrolides may be given in cases with strong suspicion of scrub typhus.

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