Clinical Characteristics and Outcome of Children Hospitalized With Scrub Typhus in an Area of Endemicity.J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. 2020 Apr 30; 9(2):202-209.JP
Scrub typhus, caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, is a major cause of acute febrile illness in children in the rural tropics.
We recruited 60 febrile pediatric patients with a positive scrub typhus rapid diagnostic test result and 40 healthy controls from Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand. Diagnosis was confirmed by the detection of (1) O. tsutsugamushi-specific DNA in blood or eschar samples with a polymerase chain reaction assay, (2) a fourfold rise in immunoglobulin M (IgM) titer to ≥1:3200 in paired plasma samples with an indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA), or (3) a single IgM titer of ≥1:3200 in an acute plasma sample with an IFA. Demographic, clinical, and laboratory data were collected, and patients were followed up for 1 year.
Diagnosis was confirmed in 35 (58%) of 60 patients, and all controls tested negative for scrub typhus. Patients with confirmed scrub typhus had clinical symptoms, including fever (35 of 35 [100%]), eschar (21 of 35 [60%]), cough (21 of 35 [60%]), tachypnea (16 of 35 [46%]), lymphadenopathy (15 of 35 [43%]), and headache (14 of 35 [40%]). Only 4 (11%) of 35 patients received appropriate antibiotic treatment for scrub typhus before admission. The median fever-clearance time was 36 hours (interquartile range, 24-53 hours). Complications observed include hepatitis (9 of 35 [26%]), severe thrombocytopenia (7 of 35 [20%]), pneumonitis (5 of 35 [14%]), circulatory shock (4 of 35 [11%]), and acute respiratory distress syndrome (3 of 35 [9%]). Treatment failure, defined by failure to defervesce within 72 hours of antibiotic treatment initiation, was noted in 8 (23%) of 35 patients, and 1 (3%) of the 35 patients died. No evidence of relapse or reinfection was found.
Pediatric scrub typhus in northern Thailand is often severe and potentially fatal with delays in treatment a likely contributing factor. Additional studies to investigate the bacterial, pharmacologic, and immunologic factors related to treatment outcome along with measures to improve public awareness should be prioritized.