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Scrub Typhus Has Been Endemic in the State Since 1923, According to Health News from ET HealthWorld



Scrub Typhus Endemic In The State Since ’23, Health News, ET HealthWorld

In a recent declaration by the state public health department, it has been confirmed that scrub typhus, a disease transmitted by mite larvae or chiggers, has been endemic in Tamil Nadu since 2023. A study published in the state public health journal by the Directorate of Public Health attributed the spread of the disease to factors like climate change, which have increasingly brought it from rural areas to urban centers.

Analysing the epidemiological profile of scrub typhus across Tamil Nadu, scientists found that the tropical rickettsial infection caused by orientia tsutsugamushi is now prevalent throughout the year, with a peak during the monsoon and post-monsoon seasons. The study, which analyzed cases reported to the integrated disease surveillance programme, revealed that of the 35,662 samples tested, 1,746 were positive for scrub typhus, with a higher positivity rate in certain districts like Dindigul.

Cases of scrub typhus were fewer in 2021 due to COVID-induced lockdowns and restrictions, but surged in 2022 and 2023, with seven outbreaks reported across Tamil Nadu in 2022. The study also highlighted that a significant number of those hospitalized for scrub typhus were children, indicating higher health-seeking behavior among parents for their children.

The surge in scrub typhus cases typically begins in June and peaks in December, with endemic areas in Chennai, Kancheepuram, Ranipet, Krishnagiri, and Kanyakumari. The public health department emphasized that while the disease previously burdened rural areas, there has been a shift towards both urban and rural areas, possibly due to rapid urbanization and climate change. Further research is needed to understand the full extent of the disease’s spread and impact.

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