MOPH warns jungle trekkers of malaria and scrub typhus

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Dr. Opas Kankawinpong.
Dr. Opas Kankawinpong.

Bangkok – Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health (MOPH) has urged jungle trekkers who have developed a fever to see a doctor immediately, as they could be at risk of contracting malaria or scrub typhus.

The comment was made by Dr. Opas Kankawinpong, the Deputy Permanent Secretary and the Spokesperson for the MOPH, who indicated that both diseases are common among patients returning from a hiking trip to a forest.

Scrub typhus or bush typhus is a form of typhus caused by the intra-cellular parasite Orientia Tsutsugamushi. Signs and symptoms of the disease include fever, headache, muscle pain, cough and gastrointestinal symptoms. The parasite usually attacks unsuspecting victims in such places as the groin, waist, under the breasts and armpits. The symptoms usually become more apparent 10 to 12 days after being bitten by the parasite. About 30-40% of the patients reported that the bite marks are dark red, which resemble cigarette burn scars. These bite marks however do not cause skin inflammation.

Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease affecting humans and other animals. Malaria causes symptoms that typically include fever, tiredness, vomiting and headache. In severe cases it can cause yellow skin, seizures, coma or death. Symptoms usually begin ten to fifteen days after a bite. If not properly treated, people may experience disease recurrence months later.

From October 1st, 2017 to January 12th, 2018, there were 500 cases of malaria and 2,185 cases of scrub typhus. The latter has already claimed two lives.

Jungle trekkers are urged to clean themselves thoroughly and wash their clothing after returning from their trips, in order to protect themselves against these potential harmful diseases. They are strongly recommended to see a physician should they exhibit any of the symptoms.