WRAIR/OSU/NMRC - Scrub typhus case mapping

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Daryl Kelly, Desmond H Foley, Alan Richards


1. Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio

2. Division of Entomology, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Silver Spring, Maryland.

3. Viral and Rickettsial Diseases Department, Naval Medical Research Center, Silver Spring, Maryland




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The Viral and Rickettsial Diseases Department at the Naval Medical Research Center in collaboration with the Walter Reed Biosystematics Unit (WRAIR Entomology) at the Smithsonian Institution and The Ohio State University, have established a new map of human scrub typhus cases via the VectorMap data portal. Scrub typhus is an acute chigger-borne febrile disease that is endemic in the Asia-Pacific area, and was responsible for thousands of cases and hundreds of deaths in soldiers during World War II. In spite of the availability of effective drugs it was the second leading cause of fevers of unknown origin in troops during the Vietnam conflict. To date the endemic focus of scrub typhus has been poorly defined, primarily because the disease mimics several other febrile illnesses and is prone to misdiagnosis. The WHO suggests it remains an under-diagnosed, under-reported cause of febrile illness in the region. However, the availability of newer, non-serology-based tests such as PCR now makes it possible to confirm clinically suspected cases. The investigators have used literature reports to map probable and confirmed human cases via the MiteMap service within VectorMap. As high resolution scrub typhus disease maps are lacking, an intensive literature review was undertaken to provide the geographic information necessary to map confirmed and probable cases. For the first time, global maps of the mite vector species and infections from rodent hosts can be viewed in concert with case reports to better understand the relationships underpinning scrub typhus distribution. We think this a timely development that will facilitate patient diagnosis by making the clinician more aware of the threat in the immediate area where patients seek treatment.

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