Saturday, 11 January 2014

Scrub typhus - a growing problem for China and it's spreading to Beijing

by Michael Woodhead
A study by Beijing researchers has shown that life threatening scrub typhus remains an important public health problem in China, and action is need to curb its spread into areas such as Beijing.
Scrub typhus is a serious infection for which there still no effective and reliable  vaccine and no point-of-care diagnostics available.
Dr Zhang Wen-Yi and co-workers from the Institute of Disease Control and Prevention, Academy of Military Medical Science, Beijing analysed surveillance data and found that there has been a sharp increase in cases of the disease, with 27,391 confirmed cases of scrub typhus  reported in China during 2006–2012
 Scrub typhus cases were mainly located in areas of high population density in southeastern and southwestern China, "indicating that many millions of people are at risk of infection," they report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.
Most scrub typhus cases occurred between July and November, which may be associated with increased exposure to infected chigger mites during the harvest season. The disease was common in elderly farmers and in rural children, perhaps due to exposure during outdoor play .
"Importantly, this study identified a primary cluster located in 176 counties of Guangdong Province, Fujian Province, Jiangxi Province, and Guangxi Province, which is considered the main persistent foci of scrub typhus in China. These areas should be targeted by policy-makers and local service providers for the establishment of refined disease control guidelines, including local vector control, health education, and promotion campaigns."
Their study also identified other newly-identified high-risk clusters of scrub typhus, including some cases in the capital Beijing, that resulted from the importation of infection from other provinces in 2007.

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