Scrub typhus cases on the rise in BaitadiMore than 20 cases have been reported in the district since mid-July, health officials say.
Doctors at the District Hospital in Baitadi have warned local residents to stay alert and aware of the increase in scrub typhus cases.
Cases of scrub typhus, a mite-borne bacterial infectious disease, have been increasing in the district this season, doctors say. Last year, the hospital had received only two to three scrub typhus cases during the monsoon season. This year, since mid-July, 22 scrub typhus cases have been reported in Baitadi, according to the data of the District Hospital in Baitadi.
In the past one week, the District Hospital has been receiving around four scrub typhus cases on a daily basis.
Scrub typhus, also sometimes called bush typhus, is an infectious disease that is caused by the parasite Orientia tsutsugamushi, a mite-borne bacterium, and spreads in the human body after they are bitten by infected chiggers (larval mites) found in mice.
“Our hospital is receiving scrub typhus patients every day. We have requested health posts in the district to stay on high alert and immediately refer patients showing symptoms of scrub typhus to the hospital,” said Harish Pant, information officer of the hospital.
“Scrub typhus can be treated if the infected gets immediate medical care. However, in Baitadi, most of the scrub typhus patients are found self-medicating at home and seeking medical help only after their condition has worsened,” said Pant.
“Some scrub typhus patients require hospitalisation. The District Hospital has been receiving many scrub typhus patients this season so we have started testing every fever patient for scrub typhus now,” said Dr Basantaraj Joshi, chief at the District Hospital in Baitadi.
High fever, headache, abdominal pain, backache, joint and muscle pain, dull red rash, nausea and vomiting are some of the symptoms of scrub typhus infection. Bleeding may occur in critical scrub typhus patients, which could lead to organ failure and turn fatal if left untreated.
The District Hospital is currently receiving over 25 fever patients on a daily basis. “Among them, up to five patients need admission for treatment,” said Pant.
According to Suresh Karki, in charge of the health post in Pancheshwar Rural Municipality Ward No. 1, the number of fever patients visiting the hospital has increased significantly in recent days.
“Our health post has been receiving over 20 fever cases on a daily basis. Among them, there may be some cases of scrub typhus too. We send patients to the District Hospital if they show symptoms of scrub typhus,” Karki said. “Scrub typhus can claim lives if left untreated. That is why we have expanded testing at the hospital. Also, people should be wary of insect bites during the monsoon.”
Nepal saw a surge in scrub typhus cases after the 2015 earthquakes. Three months after the earthquakes, the BP Koirala Institute of Health Sciences in Dharan had alerted the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division about six children with unusual fever and severe respiratory features. The outbreak escalated in 2016, when 831 cases of scrub typhus and 14 deaths were reported in 47 districts across the country.