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Scrub Typhus in a Tertiary Care Hospital in North India

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  • 1 Department of Internal Medicine, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.
  • | 2 Department of Medical Microbiology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India.

Scrub typhus, a zoonotic disease caused by the bacterium Orientia tsutsugamushi, has become endemic in many parts of India. We studied the clinical profile of this infection in 228 patients that reported to this tertiary care center from July 2013 to December 2014. The median age of patients was 35 years (interquartile range = 24.5–48.5 years), and 111 were males and 117 females. A high-grade fever occurred in 85%, breathlessness in 42%, jaundice in 32%, abdominal pain in 28%, renal failure in 11%, diarrhea in 10%, rashes in 9%, and seizures in 7%. Common laboratory abnormalities at presentation were a deranged hepatic function in 61%, anemia in 54%, leukopenia in 15%, and thrombocytopenia in 90% of our patients. Acute kidney injury (32%), acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) (25%), and disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) (16%) were the commonest complications. A hepatorenal syndrome was seen in 38% and multiple organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS) in 20% patients. The overall case fatality rate was 13.6%. In univariate analysis, ARDS requiring mechanical ventilation, acute kidney injury requiring hemodialysis, hypotension requiring inotropic support, central nervous system dysfunction at presentation, and MODS were inversely associated with survival. Survival was significantly higher in patients that presented with a duration of fever < 10 days compared with those that presented ≥ 12 days (P < 0.05) after onset. In conclusion, scrub typhus has become a leading infectious disease in north India and an important cause of infectious fever. An increasing awareness of this disease coupled with prompt management will go a long way in reducing both morbidity and mortality from this disease.

Author Notes

* Address correspondence to Navneet Sharma, Department of Internal Medicine, Nehru Hospital, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Room No. 15, 4th Floor, F-Block, Chandigarh 160012, India. E-mail: navneetsharma@hotmail.com

Authors' addresses: Navneet Sharma, Sanjay Jain, and Ashish Bhalla, Department of Internal Medicine, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, E-mails: navneetsharma@hotmail.com, sanjayvanita@yahoo.com, and bhalla_ashish@gmail.com. Manisha Biswal, Abhay Kumar, and Kamran Zaman, Department of Medical Microbiology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India, E-mails: manisha.biswal@gmail.com, ankaushik2@gmail.com, and kamran3zaman@gmail.com.

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