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Tomb-sweeping Festival: Public Urged to Take Precautions against Scrub Typhus

Tomb-sweeping Festival: Public Urged to Take Precautions against Scrub TyphusWith the onset of the scrub typhus season, the Department of Health (DOH) urges the public to take precautions against being bitten by mites while engaging in tomb sweeping activities during the long break.
 
As of March 26, the Center of Disease Control has confirmed a total of 67 scrub typhus cases across Taiwan, with Taitung County reporting 20 cases, followed by 12 cases in Hualien County, 7 cases in Kaohsiung City, and 6 cases in Taichung City. Taipei City reported 2 confirmed cases. Both cases indicate that the disease was contracted during travel in other municipalities (Yilan and New Taipei City respectively).
 
Scrub typhus falls under the fourth category of communicable diseases – of which reporting is required by law. According to DOH, confirmed cases are reported across the island each year, with occurrence showing a rise in April and reaching the peak during June and July. Most confirmed cases occurred in Hualien, Taitung, and off-shore islands.
 
While scrub typhus is not transmissible between humans, the disease is spread by bites of mites that carry the disease. The incubation period of scrub typhus is typically 6-to-21 days. Symptoms include: acute and continued fevers, headaches, backaches, cold, excessive sweats, and swollen lymph nodes. Infected individuals start experiencing rashes after one week, and sometimes developing complications such as pneumonia or liver problems. The infection could be fatal if left unattended.
 
As mites tend to thrive in grassy areas, the agency reminded the public to wear long sleeves, boots, or gloves while outdoors. Insect repellents can also help to keep mites at bay. Mowed down grass should be burned or buried to minimize the chance of mites festering.
 
If infection is suspected, seek medical attention immediately. For more information, please call the DOH’s special line 02-23753782 or dial 1999 for Taipei City Citizen Hotline.