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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Clinical and laboratory findings associated with severe scrub typhus

Dong-Min Kim13, Seok Won Kim2*, Seong-Hyung Choi1 and Na Ra Yun1

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Infectious Diseases, Departments of Internal Medicine, Chosun University School of Medicine, Gwangju City, Republic of Korea

2 Department of Neurosurgery, Chosun University School of Medicine, Gwangju City, Republic of Korea

3 Research Center for Resistant Cell, Chosun University, School of Medicine, Gwangju City, Republic of Korea

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2010, 10:108  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-10-108

Published: 30 April 2010



Scrub typhus is a mite-borne bacterial infection of humans caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi that causes a generalized vasculitis that may involve the tissues of any organ system. The aim of this study was to identify factors associated to severe complications from scrub typhus.


We conducted this prospective, case-control study on scrub typhus patients who presented to the Department of Internal Medicine at Chosun University Hospital between September, 2004 and December, 2006. Cases were 89 scrub typhus patients with severe complications and controls were 119 scrub typhus patients without severe complications.


There were significant differences in the absence of eschar, white blood cell (WBC) counts, hemoglobin, albumin, serum creatinine, fibrinogen, C-reactive protein (CRP), and active partial thromboplastin time (aPTT) between the two groups. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that only the following four factors were significantly associated with the severe complications of scrub typhus: (1) age ≥ 60 years (odd ratio [OR] = 3.13, P = 0.002, confidence interval [CI] = 1.53-6.41), (2) the absence of eschar (OR = 6.62, P = 0.03, CI = 1.22-35.8, (3) WBC counts > 10, 000/mm3 (OR = 3.6, P = 0.001, CI = 1.65-7.89), and (4) albumin ≤ 3.0 g/dL (OR = 5.01, P = 0.004, CI = 1.69-14.86).


Our results suggest that clinicians should be aware of the potential for complications, when scrub typhus patients are older (≥ 60 years), presents without eschar, or laboratory findings such as WBC counts > 10, 000/mm3, and serum albumin level ≤ 3.0 g/dL. Close observation and intensive care for scrub typhus patients with the potential for complications may prevent serious complications with subsequent reduction in its mortality rate.