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Volume 52, Number 1, February 2019

Characteristics of scrub typhus, murine typhus, and Q fever among elderly patients: Prolonged prothrombin time as a predictor for severity 

Ko Chang, Nan-Yao Lee, Wen-Chien Ko, Wei-Ru Lin, Yen-Hsu Chen Jih-Jin Tsai, Tun-Chieh Chen, Chun-Yu Lin, Ya-Ting Chang, Po-Liang Lu


Background and purpose: 

The clinical manifestations of scrub typhus, murine typhus and acute Q fever in the elderly are not clear.




We conducted a retrospective study to identify the characteristics of the elderly aged ≥65 years with a comparison group aged 18–64 years among patients with scrub typhus, murine typhus, or acute Q fever who were serologically confirmed at three hospitals in Taiwan during 2002–2011. 



Among 441 cases, including 187 cases of scrub typhus, 166 acute Q fever, and 88 murine typhus, 68 (15.4%) cases were elderly patients. The elderly had a higher severe complication rate (10.3% vs. 3.5%, p = 0.022), but did not have a significantly higher mortality rate (1.47% vs. 0.54%, p = 0.396). Compared with those without severe complications, we found the elderly (p = 0.022), dyspnea (p = 0.006), less relative bradycardia (p = 0.004), less febrile illness (p = 0.004), prolonged prothrombin time (PT) (p = 0.002), higher levels of initial C-reactive protein (p = 0.039), blood leukocyte counts (p = 0.01), and lower platelet counts (p = 0.012) are significantly associated with severe complications. Only prolonged prothrombin time was associated with severe complications in multivariate analysis (p = 0.018, CI 95% 0.01–0.66). Among clinical symptoms and laboratory data, multivariate analysis revealed chills was less frequently occurred in the elderly (p = 0.012, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.33–9.99). 



The elderly cases with scrub typhus, murine typhus, or acute Q fever would be more likely to have severe complications, for which prothrombin time prolongation is an important predictor for severe complications. 


Key words:

ElderlyScrub typhusAcute Q feverMurine typhusComplications