Seroepidemiologic evidence for murine and scrub typhus in Malang, Indonesia

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 1997 Jul;57(1):91-5. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.1997.57.91.


Indonesian military personnel stationed in Malang, East Java were among troops deployed to central Cambodia as part of the United Nations' Transition Authority Cambodia peace-keeping operation in 1992. Predeployment blood samples obtained from a cohort of Indonesian soldiers indicated a high prevalence of antibodies to antigens of Rickettsia typhi or Orientia (formerly Rickettsia) tsutsugamushi, the etiologic agents for murine and scrub typhus, respectively. To evaluate the potential risk of these rickettsial diseases in the Malang area, a subsequent seroepidemiologic survey was conducted. This study involved civilian personnel residing within one of three Malang kelurahans (neighborhoods) representing urban, suburban, and rural communities. The heads-of-households from 197 homes completed a detailed epidemiologic survey. In addition, blood samples were collected from 464 individuals residing within the households surveyed. Examination of civilian blood samples disclosed that 34.7% and 1.3% of the study participants were seroreactive to R. typhi and O. tsutsugamushi, respectively. These results were similar to those obtained earlier from the military samples. In addition, assessment of 78 blood samples obtained from peridomestic rodents trapped from within or near the households surveyed showed that 28 were reactive to R. typhi antigens and four were reactive to O. tsutsugamushi antigens. These data indicate that military and civilian personnel living in the Malang area of East Java are at risk of infection with rickettsiae that are antigenically indistinguishable from those that cause murine and scrub typhus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Indonesia / epidemiology
  • Infant
  • Middle Aged
  • Orientia tsutsugamushi / immunology*
  • Prevalence
  • Rickettsia typhi / immunology*
  • Rodent Diseases / epidemiology
  • Rural Population
  • Scrub Typhus / epidemiology*
  • Scrub Typhus / veterinary
  • Seroepidemiologic Studies
  • Shrews
  • Typhus, Endemic Flea-Borne / epidemiology*
  • Typhus, Endemic Flea-Borne / veterinary
  • Urban Population


  • Antibodies, Bacterial