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POSSIBLE SCRUB TYPHUS COINFECTIONS IN THAI AGRICULTURAL WORKERS HOSPITALIZED WITH LEPTOSPIROSIS

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  • 1 Department of Retrovirology, Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, Bangkok, Thailand; Department of Internal Medicine, Maharaj Nakhon Ratchasima Hospital, Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand
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Possible coinfections with Orientia tsutsugamushi, the causative agent of scrub typhus, were prospectively evaluated in rice farmers hospitalized with leptospirosis in Northeast Thailand. Of 22 adults with leptospirosis diagnosed by the microscopic agglutination test, 9 also had serologic evidence of scrub typhus. Of 9 individuals with possible coinfections, 5 had signs or symptoms typical of scrub typhus and atypical of leptospirosis. Patients who appeared to have mixed infections had significantly higher median platelet counts and significantly lower median serum bilirubin and creatinine concentrations (P < 0.05, Mann-Whitney U test) than did individuals with leptospirosis alone. One patient with serologic evidence of scrub typhus and leptospirosis was treated only with penicillin, to which scrub typhus is not sensitive. Respiratory distress worsened during therapy, and the patient died of respiratory failure. Physicians should consider the possibility of scrub typhus infection in leptospirosis patients who respond poorly to treatment or who have atypical disease manifestations.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: George Watt, HIV Interaction Section, Department of Retrovirology, AFRIMS, APO AP 96546, E-mail: wattgh@thai.amedd.army.mil
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