Scrub typhus: a common cause of illness in indigenous populations

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Abstract

An explanation was sought for the disparity between the low reported incidence of scrub typhus and the high prevalence of antibody to Rickettsia tsutsugamushi in the rural population of Malaysia. A combination of isolation of the organism, titration of antibody by indirect immunofluorescence, and the Weil-Felix test was used to confirm infections. Scrub typhus was found to be very common, causing 23% of all febrile illnesses at one hospital. The infection was particularly prevalent in oil-palm workers, causing an estimated 400 cases annually in a population of 10,000 people living on one plantation. The clinical syndrome, whether mild or severe, was difficult to distinguish from that due to other infections. Eschars, rashes and adenopathy were uncommon. When used to examine early sera, the Weil-Felix test failed to confirm the diagnosis in most infections. © 1976.

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Brown, G. W., Robinson, D. M., Huxsoll, D. L., Ng, T. S., Lim, K. J., & Sannasey, G. (1976). Scrub typhus: a common cause of illness in indigenous populations. Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 70(5–6), 444–448. https://doi.org/10.1016/0035-9203(76)90127-9

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