MORU has established a new laboratory at Prachanukroh Hospital, Chiangrai, northern Thailand, a highly endemic scrub typhus area

Tropical rickettsial illnesses are very common in northern Thailand, particularly among hill tribe populations. Chiangrai is of high interest and relevance for MORU researchers, as previous reports on possible drug resistance in scrub typhus originated from this area.

Clinical studies relating to diagnostics, treatment, immune responses and pathophysiology are being set up and coordinated by MORU Senior Research Physician and Oxford Assoc. Prof Daniel H. Paris and his team, who have established a laboratory and office building at the Prachanukroh Hospital as the basis for a new MORU-affiliated research unit in Chiangrai. The Prachanukroh Hospital has been a collaborative MORU study site for many years, where we have performed a prospective causes-of-fever study and recently participated in the multi-centre Sepsis study (SEACAIRN).

The MORU research physicians Dr Tri Wangrangsimakul and his wife Dr Rachel Greer – visiting doctors from Oxford, UK –  have recently moved to Chiangrai, where they have been very active in establishing and expanding the Chiangrai clinical research site, building local relationships with doctors, epidemiologists and the local health care network.

Dr Tri, an infectious disease clinician, is developing a large research project in clinical tropical medicine, with a focus on rickettsial and febrile diseases. Dr Rachel was recently appointed visiting lecturer for Family Medicine at the Prachanukroh Hospital.

The local study team consists of two study nurses Suthathip Kaewta (Im) and Nidanuch Tasak (Pui) and two laboratory technicians Areerat Thaiprakong (Zulin) and Nattapon Pinthong. With the full support of the MORU Rickettsiology group, the Chiangrai team is working to establish and expand the clinical study framework, paving the way for future clinical research. The two-way interactions between training and development of new research assays in the Bangkok laboratories and deploying them in the field is inspiring and productive.

The Chiangrai highlands with its many villages is a highly-endemic region of scrub typhus, and the local hill tribes are a particularly exposed population. The primary health care facilities are called “Anamais”, which are buildings providing basic health care in remote areas