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Typhus bacteria found in NC chigger bites, researchers find

A new study shows that chiggers carrying a typhus bacteria that has never been documented in the U.S have been found in North Carolina. Researchers from N.C. State University and UNC-Greensboro have published a paper in the Journal Emerging Infectious Diseases saying they found chiggers- in samples taken last year that carry bacteria that can cause scrub typhus.

The bacteria was thought to only occur in an area anchored by Pakistan, Russia and Australia, but researchers now say it’s recently has been reported in the Middle East, southern Chile and Africa. Scrub typhus often is compared to the tick-borne Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

The Centers for Disease Control says symptoms usually start within 10 days of being bitten by an infected chigger, and they include fever, headache, body aches and sometimes a rash.

It can progress to organ failure and bleeding if not treated, but the CDC says the bacteria can be treated with a common antibiotic.