Shillong, Dec. 14: Scrub typhus, a disease caused by the bites of ticks or mites, has claimed five lives in Meghalaya in the past week and affected more than 80 people, particularly in the rural areas of the state.
The medical superintendent of KJP Hospital at Jaiaw in Shillong, Dr David Tariang, said five deaths were reported in the private hospital and nearly 60 others were undergoing treatment.
The people affected are mostly from the rural areas of West Khasi Hills, East Khasi Hills and Ri Bhoi.
The disease, prevalent from the month of November, however, has not spread to the city.
When the villagers venture out to the jungle to collect firewood or for any other farming activities, the mites or ticks bite them. If they are treated within two days, they can be saved. But if there is a delay in reporting the case, complications start developing, said Tariang.
The main factor, which leads to the death of the patients, is the delay in treatment.
Soon after the bite of the mites or ticks, the patients develop fever. The portions where the mites or ticks bite initially become reddish and then change into black spots.
The drug used to cure the illness is Doxycycliene and Chloramphenicol capsules.
According to Tariang, the treatment of the disease is cheap and the people can afford it. The state government, however, has not made available free medicines to the affected patients.
Tariang said the disease could be fatal since there was no proper medical facilities available in the rural areas to treat it.
“The people should report the case to the nearest health centre or hospital,” he said.
There is a need to create awareness among the people in the rural areas to have proper clothing before venturing out for farming. As soon as they come back they should take a bath and wash their clothes he added.