Millennium Post

Health dept calls for tighter vigilance in light of scrub typhus scare

Kolkata: Taking a serious note of reports of scrub typhus from some parts of the state, the state Health department has directed Chief Medical Officers of Health (CMOH) of all districts to be alert and vigilant and sent details of all cases to the department.

"Scrub typhus is a disease that can be treated with antibiotics, if it is detected early. So, early detection is of the utmost importance. We have directed all hospitals to conduct blood tests if fever continues for a period of five days in a patient," a senior official of the state Health department said.

The department has now equipped 19 hospitals across the state with facilities of kits for blood tests related to scrub typhus. The School of Tropical Medicine has been conducting blood tests related to the disease for many years.

"If a patient is diagnosed with the disease then the doctors have been advised to start treatment immediately," the official added.

According to sources in the Health department, Institute of Child Health (ICH) in Park Circus has had 300 cases of scrub typhus since August this year. The ICH has sent details of all these cases to the department.

Recently, two persons including a woman have died of scrub typhus in the state, both of whom were residents of Murshidabad district. One of the deaths took place while the victim was undergoing treatment at a private hospital on EM Bypass under Phoolbagan police station area.

The disease is spread among people through the bites of infected chiggers (larval mites). Scrub typhus, also known as bush typhus, is a disease caused by bacteria called orientia tsutsugamushi and it commonly occurs in rural areas.

The most common symptoms of scrub typhus include fever, headache, body aches and sometimes rash. Most cases of scrub typhus have so far been reported in rural areas of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, China, Japan, India and Northern Australia.

Anyone living in or traveling to areas where scrub typhus is found, bears the risk of getting infected.

"Scrub typhus, which so far was believed to be prevalent only in rural Bengal, is spreading its tentacles towards the city. The fact has come to light particularly from last year, when a number of cases were reported from the state," said a virologist at School of Tropical Medicine.

Meanwhile, two persons allegedly died of dengue in the state on Tuesday. The first death was reported from Shyambazar, with the other one from New Town.

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