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Taiwan develops new scrub typhus rapid test kit
 The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed a locally produced testing kit for quick and effective diagnosis of scrub typhus, a mite-borne infectious disease, the agency announced recently.

According to CDC Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang, the newly designed device can analyze 96 samples in four hours, while the current infection diagnostic system can only examine 60 samples in four hours and requires highly trained personnel to administer the test and interpret the results.

The testing kit is applicable for the detection of the widest range of scrub typhus strains, Chuang said.

The device can not only detect scrub typhus cases in Taiwan, but can also be used for scrub typhus diagnosis in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Australia, the CDC said, citing research results from the U.S. Naval Health Research Center, where the kit was sent for testing in June.

The device took three years to research and develop and was awarded a patent July 30, the CDC said.

Scrub typhus infections are reported throughout the year in Taiwan and become more common between May and October, the CDC said.

According to the CDC, a total of 270 cases of scrub typhus have been confirmed this year and between 350 and 500 cases have been reported annually over the past five years.

Infections occur throughout Taiwan, but Hualien and Taitung counties in the east, the outlying islands of Kinmen and Penghu and the southern city of Kaohsiung, as well as central Nantou County, are classified as high-risk areas, according to the CDC.

Scrub typhus is an acute febrile, infectious illness transmitted by the bite of chigger mites that live on rats. Patients experience abrupt onset of high fever, severe headache and scabs resembling cigarette burns.

Without treatment, the mortality of the disease can rise to 60 percent.

The research work was published in the peer-reviewed journal The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene in March.

Source: Focus Taiwan
Catherine Hung (ychung@taitra.org.tw)
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