The characterisation of human pathogenic Orientia spp. in Leptotrombidium (and other) mite vectors transmitting scrub typhus is a 'hot topic'. Many open questions remain regarding the transmission of Orientia to humans, and the vertical maintenance within the vectors.
Unresolved entomological issues include:
- What other mite species transmit scrub typhus in the region?
- What are the true hosts of Orientia – and what are the implications?
- What are the characteristics of non-human pathogenic Orientia strains?
- How do these strains contribute to the host response?
In collaboration with the Faculty of Tropical Medicine, Mahidol University, we are currently collecting rodents and characterizing the vector species with the Orientia strains they harbor across various study sites of high scrub typhus endemicity, and strain isolates will feed into genome sequencing projects.