Sunday March 29, 2020

Microscopic Mites known as Chiggers cause Deadly Scrub Typhus, kill 140,000 people a year in Chile

Chiggers transmit the bacteria, Orientia tsutsugamushi , they spread through the lymphatic fluid and show a number of symptoms

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FILE - A fisherman walks on the shore of the fishing village Quetalmahue in Chile's Chiloe island, May 10, 2016. Scrub typhus has been confirmed in a cluster of cases on the island, far from places it usually strikes. Image source: VOA
  • Sept 09, 2016: Microscopic biting mites known as chiggers leads to a deadly disease know as Scrub Typhus. Scientists quoted on Wednesday that “This disease is common in Southeast Asia and has been rapidly spreading in parts of South America and it could have become endemic there.

The bacteria that caused this disease were first identified in Japan in 1930 and it has been known since many years.

Scrub typhus is a tropical disease which kills at least 140,000 people a year in the Asia-Pacific region. This has been confirmed in a cluster of cases on a large island off Chile. This island is 12,000 kilometers away from its usual haunts on the other side of Pacific.

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Chiggers transmit the bacteria, Orientia tsutsugamushi , they spread through the lymphatic fluid and show a number of symptoms. Sudden illness with shaking chills, fever, severe headache, infection of the mucus membrane in the eyes, and lymph node swelling are the symptoms of this disease.

It was Mis conceptualized until 2006 that Scrub typhus was restricted to a limited area. This was called the “tsutsugamushi triangle,” which ranged from Pakistan in the west to far eastern Russia in the east to northern Australia in the south.

Wider distribution?

Researchers from Britain’s Oxford University and the Pontificia Universidad Católica and Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile while writing to “The New England Journal of Medicine” said that, cases found off Chile’s mainland, “suggest there may be a much wider global distribution than previously understood.”

Charles Nicolle received the 1928 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his identification of lice as the transmitter of epidemic typhus. Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Charles Nicolle received the 1928 Nobel Prize in Medicine for his identification of lice as the transmitter of epidemic typhus. Image source: Wikimedia Commons

Two cases of scrub typhus were found outside the triangle in the year 2006. One, in the Middle East, was caused by a previously unrecorded bacteria related to tsutsugamushi and namedOrientia Chuto. The second was found on Chiloe island, just off mainland Chile.

Paul Newton, director of the Lao-Oxford-Mahosot Hospital-Wellcome Trust Research Unit said “Scrub typhus is a common disease but a neglected one.”

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In January 2015 and again in early 2016 on the northern coast of Chiloe that is, in Ancud, three more cases were discovered.

This disease causes approximately a million clinical cases, and kills at least 140,000 people each year,there’s evidence of an even bigger burden of disease in another part of the world highlights the need for more research and attention to it.”

– prepared by Manthra Koliyer with inputs from VOA

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Distinctive Bacteria in The Gut May Be Associated With High Blood Pressure

Gut microbiota are constantly changing, depending on what we eat, our environment and especially our genetic makeup

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Gut microbiota are constantly changing, depending on what we eat, our environment and especially our genetic makeup. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have identified a distinct collection of bacteria found in the gut that may contribute to and predict the development of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH).

PAH is a chronic and progressive disease in which the arteries that supply blood to the lungs are constricted, resulting in symptoms such as shortness of breath, heart palpitations, fatigue and others.

In PAH, persistently high blood pressure in lung arteries makes the right side of the heart work too hard to pump blood, resulting in right-sided heart failure. According to the study, published in the journal Hypertension, everyone has a collection of bacteria in their gut — known as microbiota — that aid in digestion.

The researchers found that having a specific microbiota profile in their gut predicted the presence of PAH with 83 per cent accuracy.

“We showed for the first time that specific bacteria in the gut are present in people with PAH. While current PAH treatments focus on the lungs, looking at the lung/gut axis could open the door to new therapies centered in the digestive system,” said Indian-origin researcher and study lead author Mohan Raizada from University of Florida in the US.

For the study, stool samples were collected from 18 PAH patients and 12 people without a history of cardiopulmonary disease. The microbiota DNA from the stool samples were isolated and sequenced. The testing revealed a group of bacteria unique in the PAH patients that were associated with PAH.

Blood Pressure
In PAH, persistently high blood pressure in lung arteries makes the right side of the heart work too hard to pump blood, resulting in right-sided heart failure. Pixabay

According to the study, this is the first link between a specific collection of bacteria and pulmonary arterial hypertension. However, it is not the first time that gut bacteria have been connected to medical conditions. A variety of different gut microbiota profiles have been linked to a variety of cardiovascular diseases including high blood pressure, the study added.

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Gut microbiota are constantly changing, depending on what we eat, our environment and especially our genetic makeup. “However, the bacteria associated with PAH are unique and do not seem to change. We believe these particular bacteria are constant,” Raizada said. (IANS)