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OCCURRENCE OF ORIENTIA TSUTSUGAMUSHI IN SMALL MAMMALS FROM THAILAND

Extensive sampling of small mammals was conducted in eight provinces of Thailand between September 9, 1992 and April 29, 2001. A total of 3,498 specimens representing 22 species were collected. Eighty-eight percent (3,089 of 3,498) of the animals were collected from a region in Chiangrai Province, which is commonly recognized as endemic for human scrub typhus. Blood and tissue samples from each animal were tested for the presence of Orientia tsutsugamushi, the etiologic agent of scrub typhus. The predominant species collected were Rattus rattus (53%, n = 1,863), R. losea (18%, n = 638), Bandicota indica (16%, n = 564), and R. exulans (4%, n = 146). Orientia tsutsugamushi was detected in 10 of the 22 species of mammals that included R. bukit (25% infected, 1 of 4), R. rattus (23%, 419 of 1,855), R. argentiventer (22%, 5 of 23), R. berdmorei (22%, 2 of 9), R. losea (13%, 82 of 638), B. indica (9%, 52 of 564), R. koratensis (8%, 1 of 12), B. savilei (3%, 1 of 30), R. exulans (1%, 2 of 146), and Tupaia glis (2%, 1 of 49). Infected animals were found in Chiangrai (18% infected, 563 of 3,084), Bangkok (11%, 1 of 9), Sukothai (3%, 1 of 30), and Nonthaburi (1%, 1 of 69) Provinces. The implications towards scrub typhus maintenance and transmission are discussed.

Author Notes

Reprint requests: Department of Entomology, Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, 315/6 Rajvithi Road, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.
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