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Houses in Ancud, Chiloé Island, Chile © luciezr - Shutterstock

Scrub typhus, a disease transmitted through 'chiggers' that kills at least 140,000 people a year in the Asia-Pacific region, may now be endemic in a part of South America, according to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers from Oxford University and the Pontificia Universidad Católica and Universidad del Desarrollo in Chile confirmed a cluster of cases of the life-threatening tropical disease in a large island off of Chile, more than 12,000 kilometres from its usual range on the other side of the Pacific.

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