Health: What is ‘Scrub Typhus’? How does it spread and what is its treatment, know everything here

Scrub typhus, also known as bush typhus, is a disease caused by a bacteria called Orientia tsutsugamushi. Scrub typhus is spread between people through the bites of infected chiggers (larvae mites). The most common symptoms of scrub typhus include fever, headache, body aches and sometimes rash. Most cases of scrub typhus occur in rural areas of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, China, Japan, India, and northern Australia. Anyone living or traveling to areas where scrub typhus is found can become infected.

Symptoms of scrub typhus usually begin within 10 days of the bite. Signs and symptoms may include-

  • fever and chills

  • Headache

  • rash

  • enlarged lymph nodes

  • Body aches and muscle pain

  • mental changes, ranging from confusion to coma

  • A black, scab-like area (also called an eschar) at the site of a chigger bite

  • People with severe disease may develop organ failure and bleeding, which can be fatal if not treated.


The symptoms of scrub typhus are similar to the symptoms of many other diseases. If you develop the symptoms mentioned above after spending time in areas where scrub typhus is found, see your healthcare provider.

If you have recently traveled, tell your healthcare provider where and when you traveled.

Your healthcare provider may order a blood test to rule out scrub typhus or other diseases.

Laboratory testing and reporting of results may take several weeks, so your healthcare provider may begin treatment before results are available.


  • Scrub typhus should be treated with the antibiotic doxycycline. Doxycycline can be used in individuals of any age.

  • Antibiotics are most effective if given soon after symptoms start.

  • People who are treated quickly with doxycycline usually recover quickly.

infection prevention

  • The outbreak of scrub typhus is increasing in Tamil Nadu. There is no vaccine available to prevent scrub typhus. Infection is prevented by taking precautions to avoid being bitten by the mite. Other than this-

  • Avoid traveling to areas where there is an outbreak of the disease.

  • Stay away from areas with dense vegetation where mites are commonly found.

  • Use insect repellent on exposed skin and clothing. Make sure the repellent is effective against mites. Do not use repellent on skin covered with clothing unless explicitly advised to do so.

  • Infants and very young children should keep their arms and legs covered and, if in a crib or stroller, should be covered with mosquito netting to prevent the entry of mites.

  • Be careful when using insect repellents on children. Make sure it does not come in contact with eyes, mouth or cut or wounded skin.

  • Dress your baby in clothing that covers arms and legs, or cover cribs, strollers and baby carriers with mosquito netting.

  • Do not apply insect repellent cream to your baby’s hands, eyes, mouth, broken skin or irritated skin.

  • Reduce your risk of getting scrub typhus by avoiding contact with infected chiggers.

  • If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.

recovery possible

Scrub typhus is treatable, and recovery is usually rapid if the condition is diagnosed early and medication is started early. If in doubt about the spread of disease in TN, consult a doctor to get the necessary microbiology tests done.