Serosurveillance of scrub typhus in small mammals collected from military training sites near the DMZ, Northern Gyeonggi-do, Korea, and analysis of the relative abundance of chiggers from mammals examined.
Comprehensive quarterly serosurveillance on scrub typhus in small mammals collected from military training sites located near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), northern Gyeonggi-do (Province), ROK was conducted to determine the potential rodent-borne and associated ectoparasite disease risks to military personnel. A total of 1,196 rodents and insectivores representing 8 species, Apodemus agrarius (87.3%, n = 1,044), Mus musculus (5.4%, n = 65), Crocidura lasiura (3.3%, n = 40), Microtus fortis (2.6%, n = 31), Micromys minutus (0.3%, n = 4), Tscherskia triton (0.3%, n = 4), Rattus norvegicus (0.3%, n = 4), and Myodes regulus (0.3%, n = 4) were assayed for the presence of antibodies to Orientia tsutsugamushi. O. tsutsugamushi antibodies were detected in 6 of 8 species and seroprevalence determined; A. agrarius (45.6%), M. musculus (23.1%), M. fortis (48.4%), M. minutus (50.0%), T. triton (50.0%), and R. norvegicus (25.0%). A total of 31,184 chigger mites collected from 508 rodents and insectivores were slide-mounted and 10 species belonging to 4 genera were identified. Leptotrombidium pallidum (53.4%) was the most frequently collected, followed by L. palpale (15.7%), Neotrombicula tamiyai (14.3%), L. orientale (10.7%), L. zetum (3.1%), Walchia fragilis (2.1%), and L. gemiticulum (0.8%), while the remaining 3 species, L. subintermedium, N. gardellai, and Euschoengastia koreaensis were rarely observed (prevalence < 10%). In contrast to previous surveys, higher chigger indices of the primary scrub typhus vectors, L. pallidum (165.4), L. orientale (45.0), and L. palpale (21.4), were observed during the spring season.