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Hospitals report rare tick fever cases in city

Hospitals in the city have reported cases of rickettsial disease caused by tick bites a rare infectious fever that is common in hilly regions having a tropical climate.

Written by Pritha Chatterjee | New Delhi | Published: October 20, 2012 1:08 am

Hospitals in the city have reported cases of rickettsial disease caused by tick bites — a rare infectious fever that is common in hilly regions having a tropical climate.

Though doctors said the disease “is very rare” in Delhi,AIIMS has reported at least two cases in its paediatric unit over the past six weeks.

Serological reports from the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) confirmed that these patients were afflicted with scrub typhus,a variant of rickettsia.

Doctors at three private hospitals said they had sent samples to the NCDC and received confirmed reports.

Serological tests to confirm the infection is not available in government and most private hospitals.

The Director of Health Services (DHS) Dr N V Kamat said the city’s infectious disease surveillance programme was yet to be notified about the cases.

Dr V K Paul,the head of paediatrics in AIIMS,said: “The disease is very rare and we do not often get patients suffering from the it in Delhi. But we have received confirmation from the NCDC that two of our patients were diagnosed with Scrub Typhus over the past six weeks.”

Dr Atul Gogia,associate consultant of internal medicine in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital said: “We have seen 8-10 cases of scrub typhus in the past month. We used to see a case once a year. This year,there has been a sudden jump. So we are sending every suspected,unexplained fever for tests.”

Dr Gogia said patients have a characteristic black mark,known as eschar,left by the mite on the body accompanied by fever.

Dr Rommel Tickoo,senior consultant of internal medicine in Saket-based Max Hospital,said at least 10 confirmed cases of scrub typhus were reported at the hospital.

“I have seen 10 cases this season. At least four patients had to be admitted,some in the ICU. Patients who had travelled to mountainous regions get the disease,” he said.

Dr Tickoo said most of his patients had close contacts with pets and stray animals,particularly dogs.

If diagnosed early,the fever goes within 48 hours of administering the doxycycline tablet — the known medicine for the disease. But delayed treatment,the main cause of complications,can lead to pneumonia,acute respiratory distress syndrome,cardiovascular problems and even death.

This year 22 deaths have been reported from rickettsial diseases in Himachal Pradesh,with over 1,000 cases being reported. Doctors said they are prescribing the Doxycycline tablet without waiting for NCDC test results in view of the rising cases this season.

Dr S Chatterjee of Apollo Hospital said: “We have sent samples to the NCDC and 3-4 cases have turned positive. We are giving medicines for the disease to all suspected cases because the NCDC takes a long time to send its reports. Any delay in treatment can lead to serious complications.”

Ticking problem

Rickettsial disease caused by tick bites is a rare infectious fever common to tropical climates in hilly regions

Patients will have a black mark left by the mite accompanied by fever

Known medicine for the disease is doxycycline tablet

Delayed treatment can lead to pneumonia,acute respiratory distress syndrome,cardiovascular problems and even death.

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