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Hee Il Lee 1 Article
Annual Fluctuation in Chigger Mite Populations and Orientia Tsutsugamushi Infections in Scrub Typhus Endemic Regions of South Korea
Seong Yoon Kim, Byoungchul Gill, Bong Gu Song, Hyuk Chu, Won Il Park, Hee Il Lee, E-hyun Shin, Shin-Hyeong Cho, Jong Yul Roh
Osong Public Health Res Perspect. 2019;10(6):351-358.   Published online December 31, 2019
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AbstractAbstract PDF

Chigger mites are vectors for scrub typhus. This study evaluated the annual fluctuations in chigger mite populations and Orientia tsutsugamushi infections in South Korea.


During 2006 and 2007, chigger mites were collected monthly from wild rodents in 4 scrub typhus endemic regions of South Korea. The chigger mites were classified based on morphological characteristics, and analyzed using nested PCR for the detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi.


During the surveillance period, the overall trapping rate for wild rodents was 10.8%. In total, 17,457 chigger mites (representing 5 genera and 15 species) were collected, and the average chigger index (representing the number of chigger mites per rodent), was 31.7. The monthly chigger index was consistently high (> 30) in Spring (March to April) and Autumn (October to November). The mite species included Leptotrombidium pallidum (43.5%), L. orientale (18.9%), L. scutellare (18.1%), L. palpale (10.6%), and L. zetum (3.6%). L. scutellare and L. palpale populations, were relatively higher in Autumn. Monthly O. tsutsugamushi infection rates in wild rodents (average: 4.8%) and chigger mites (average: 0.7%) peaked in Spring and Autumn.


The findings demonstrated a bimodal pattern of the incidence of O. tsutsugamushi infections. Higher infection rates were observed in both wild rodents and chigger mites, in Spring and Autumn. However, this did not reflect the unimodal incidence of scrub typhus in Autumn. Further studies are needed to identify factors, such as human behavior and harvesting in Autumn that may explain this discordance.


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