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Otalgia and eschar in the external auditory canal in scrub typhus complicated by acute respiratory distress syndrome and multiple organ failure

Author(s): Lee Bor-Jen | Chen Chia-Yi | Hu Sung-Yuan | Tsan Yu-Tse | Lin Tzu-Chieh | Wang Lee-Min

Journal: BMC Infectious Diseases
ISSN 1471-2334

Volume: 11;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 79;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Abstract Background Scrub typhus, a mite-transmitted zoonosis caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, is an endemic disease in Taiwan and may be potentially fatal if diagnosis is delayed. Case presentations We encountered a 23-year-old previously healthy Taiwanese male soldier presenting with the right ear pain after training in the jungle and an eleven-day history of intermittent high fever up to 39°C. Amoxicillin/clavulanate was prescribed for otitis media at a local clinic. Skin rash over whole body and abdominal cramping pain with watery diarrhea appeared on the sixth day of fever. He was referred due to progressive dyspnea and cough for 4 days prior to admission in our institution. On physical examination, there were cardiopulmonary distress, icteric sclera, an eschar in the right external auditory canal and bilateral basal rales. Laboratory evaluation revealed thrombocytopenia, elevation of liver function and acute renal failure. Chest x-ray revealed bilateral diffuse infiltration. Doxycycline was prescribed for scrub typhus with acute respiratory distress syndrome and multiple organ failure. Fever subsided dramatically the next day and he was discharged on day 7 with oral tetracycline for 7 days. Conclusion Scrub typhus should be considered in acutely febrile patients with multiple organ involvement, particularly if there is an eschar or a history of environmental exposure in endemic areas. Rapid and accurate diagnosis, timely administration of antibiotics and intensive supportive care are necessary to decrease mortality of serious complications of scrub typhus.
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