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Typhus is an infectious disease syndrome caused by several bacterial organisms resulting in acute, chronic, and recrudescing disease.
- Acute infectious diseases caused by 3 species of Rickettsiae:
- Epidemic typhus: Human-to-human transmission by body louse vector. Primarily in circumstances, such as refugee camps, war, famine, and disaster. Recrudescent disease, occurring years after initial infection, can be a source of human outbreak. Flying squirrels are also a reservoir.
- Endemic (murine) typhus: Infection by rodents to humans by rat flea bite
- Scrub typhus: Infection and infestation of chiggers and of rodents to humans by the chigger; primarily in Asia and western Pacific areas
- System(s) affected: Endocrine/Metabolic; Hematologic/Lymphatic/Immunologic; Pulmonary; Skin/Exocrine
- Synonym(s): Louse-borne typhus; Brill-Zinsser disease; Murine typhus
- Epidemic and endemic typhus: Rare in the US (outside of south Texas)
- Scrub typhus: Travelers returning from endemic areas only (rare)
Endemic typhus: <100 cases annually, primarily in states around the Gulf of Mexico, especially south Texas; underreporting suspected
Exposure to vectors (e.g., during travel to countries where endemic)
Elderly may have more severe disease.
Avoid vectors for each disease:
- Scrub typhus: Wear protective clothing and use insect repellents.
- Endemic typhus: Practice ectoparasite and rodent control.
- Epidemic typhus: Delousing and cleaning of clothing; vaccine may be considered for those at high risk of exposure (typhus vaccine production has been discontinued in the US).
- Epidemic typhus by R. prowazekii
- Endemic typhus by R. typhi
- Scrub typhus by R. tsutsugamushi