CANBERRA, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Travellers to Australia's Northern Territory (NT) have been warned to be wary of scrub typhus, a rare tropical disease that can be lethal.
Scrub typhus is a bacterial infection that is transmitted by mites, a small type of arthropod, that normally live on native animals.
They usually bite in warm, moist parts of the body such as the armpit or groin and leave a black oval-shaped scab up to a centimetre long.
Once bitten it takes up to two weeks for the symptoms of scrub typhus to show up and, though easily treatable with antibiotics, the disease can cause organ failure and eventually death.
Bart Currie, a professor at the Menzies School of Health Research, said the disease cannot be transferred from human to human.
"It can often start out as a mild non-specific illness where people might have a fever and headache and feel unwell, sweating a lot, and then over a couple of days can progress because the bacteria can then spread to other organs within the body from the site at which the mite has injected into the person," Currie told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) on Sunday.
Australian man Darryl Gracie was pig-hunting in the NT when he was bitten by a mite. When he was diagnosed with scrub typhus two weeks later he was on the brink of organ failure.
"I thought I had the flu, the headaches, feeling bad, the symptoms got worse and worse and I presented myself up to the Royal Darwin Hospital in a very bad way," Gracie said.
Currie was the doctor who correctly diagnosed Gracie, saving his life.
He said that bushwalkers in the NT could protect themselves by wearing long pants and using insect repellent.
Travellers from Asia who have recently returned from a trip to the NT should be aware that they may have contracted the disease, Currie said.