CDC warns rural areas of scrub typhus mite

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) yesterday urged people to be vigilant against scrub typhus, especially those traveling to rural areas during the Tomb Sweeping Day holiday.

Cases of scrub typhus in the U.S. typically spike in April and May and peak in June and July, the CDC said.

16 cases have been recorded this year, mainly in eastern Taiwan, down from 40 to 50 cases in the same period in the past two years.

Photo: WebMD

Lin Yongqing, a physician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offered advice on how to avoid the disease at a news conference.

The disease is caused by mites that hide in grass and bushes and attach themselves to humans or animals, Lin said.

However, the mites do not bite their hosts for 12 to 20 hours after they attach, he said, adding that people who have been to high-risk areas should shower and change their clothes when they return home to ensure they do not contract the disease.

People should also wear long pants and long-sleeved shirts and use insect repellent to avoid getting mites, Lim said.

The incubation period for the disease is nine to 12 days, Lim said, adding that the mites that carry the parasite leave scars at the bite site.

Initial symptoms included high fever, headache and swollen lymph nodes, followed by a maculopapular rash about a week later, he added.

People who develop symptoms should seek immediate medical attention, as the disease has a mortality rate of up to 60 percent due to pneumonia or organ failure if left untreated, he added.

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