What is the global prevalence of scrub typhus?

Updated: Apr 19, 2018
  • Author: David J Cennimo, MD, FAAP, FACP, FIDSA, AAHIVS; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Answer

Scrub typhus is endemic in regions of eastern Asia and the southwestern Pacific (Korea to Australia) and from Japan to India and Pakistan. [2, 15, 23, 24, 25, 26]  Recently, there have been increased reports of infection in Northern India. [27]

It is generally a disease of rural villages and suburban areas and is normally not encountered in the cities.

Although most cases are undiagnosed, prospective studies in endemic areas reveal in incidence of 18-23%. [3, 28] Community surveys in Malaysia reported an incidence of 3.2-3.5% per month and a seroprevalence exceeding 80% in those older than 44 years. [29] Surveillance of military personal deployed in southeast Asia demonstrated seroconversion in 484 per 1000 population. [5]

The seasonal occurrence of scrub typhus varies with the climate in different countries because the mites are able to thrive as conditions change. The mites prefer the rainy season and certain areas (eg, forest clearings, riverbanks, and grassy regions). In the past few years, cases have been noted earlier in the season because of increased mite activity as the weather warms. [30] Areas in which mites thrive pose a greater risk to humans. The prevalence of scrub typhus in Japan has been rising, and much of the current research is based in Japan.


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