Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment for Scrub Typhus

Scrub typhus in children can get complicated when not treated. Timely treatment is a must for avoiding scrub typhus mortality. Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed explains how to treat scrub typhus and prevent its complications.

Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed is a Pediatric intensivist and currently practicing at Rani hospital, Ranchi. For the past 5 years, he has worked as a pediatrician.

Scrub typhus is nearly as widespread as malaria in parts of India. According to the central government’s National Center for Disease Control’s annual report of 2016-’17, there were 40 outbreaks of scrub typhus between 2008 and 2017. Death rates are higher in cases with complications, reaching 14% in brain infections, and 24% with multiple organ failure, and pregnancies with scrub typhus can have poor outcomes, with high miscarriage rates.

All you need to know about scrub typhus

Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed says, “Scrub typhus is a vector-borne disease and is caused by an insect bite. There are other vector-borne diseases like malaria and dengue. Scrub typhus is a disease that is rarely known. This is prevalent. The diagnosis of scrub typhus is often missed as people do not have much information about it. Mis -diagnosis can lead to fatal deaths."

Symptoms of scrub typhus in children

Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed says, “Scrub typhus is caused by a bite of mites. This site is very small in size and less than 0.5 cm. This cannot be seen by the naked eye. This is generally seen in the bodies of rats and mice. The bacteria of scrub typhus is Orientia tsutsugamushi. There are 3 things involved in this infection of scrub typhus which is as follows- 

  • Scrub typhus in the blood 
  • Mites in rats 
  • Humans are an accidental host 

This mite is seen mostly in Japan. 

The symptoms of scrub typhus in children are- 

  • Long term fever despite taking antibiotics
  • Undifferentiated fever 
  • Weakness 
  • Headache 

Untreated scrub typhus can be fatal in children.”

Causes of scrub typhus

Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed informs, “Scrub typhus is a bacterial infection which is caused by vegetation known as “scrub” from the heavy jungles, beaches, tropical forest, and presence of rats. It spreads when humans come in contact with the mites present in the rat’s body. This mite cuts you and is generally invisible. This mite enters the bloodstream and feeds on the host. This is how this bacteria enters the body causing fever and inflammation of the liver or spleen."

Complications of scrub typhus in children

Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed says, “The complications of scrub typhus in children are- 

Multiple organ affection 

  • Pneumonia in lungs 
  • Encephalitis in brain 
  • Liver infection 
  • Myocarditis
  • Kidney infection 

Death mainly occurs due to complications of scrub typhus in children."

Prevention of scrub typhus in children

Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed informs, “The prevention of scrub typhus is as follows - 

  • Pest control with strong pesticides 
  • Avoid coming in contact with farmlands and scrub vegetation
  • Protective clothing like full sleeves trousers and boots."

Rapid Fire 

  1. Can typhus spread from one child to another child? Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed informs, “In scrub typhus infection, humans are accidental hosts. Typhus can spread from rats to humans with mite bites. It cannot be transmitted from human to human. The scrub typhus is transmitted from the source of rats.”
  2. Can scrub typhus cause death? Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed informs, “Scrub typhus can be fatal. The rainy season has increased cases of scrub typhus. This is generally present from July to October. Complications of scrub typhus can lead to death. Timely treatment is important to prevent scrub typhus mortality.”
  3. Can scrub typhus reoccur? Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed informs, “Scrub typhus bacteria has 3 strains which can harm you.”

Edited By: Dr. Rati Parwani

Contributed By: Dr. Zeeshan Ahmed, Pediatric intensivist, Rani hospital, Ranchi

Tags : #Healthcare-Trending-Topics #scrubtyphus #drzeeshanahmed #ranihospital #pediatrics #pediatrician #bacterialinfection #bacterialdisease #pediatricintensivist #childrenhealth #smitakumar #medicircle

About the Author


Dr. Rati Parwani

Dr Rati Parwani is a Practising Professional BHMS Doctor having experience of 8 years in the medical field. Her approach towards each and every patient is the utmost professional with high standards of practice. She has nurtured her writing skills and proves it as an asset to her professionalism. She has experience in content writing and likes her writing ethical and scientific-based.

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