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Can typhus be prevented?
Efforts to prevent typhus have been successful when people are able to avoid contact with the vectors that spread typhus (mainly fleas and lice) or fecal droppings from rodents. In areas where endemic typhus is found, or in outbreaks of epidemic typhus, efforts to treat domestic animals to rid them of fleas are good preventive measures. Many experts suggest that good sanitation and reducing populations of rats, mice, and other animals that may carry the bacteria and their vectors is effective. Insect repellents are advised if fleas and lice are found in the local environment. Bathing and use of insecticides (for example, 1% malathion or 1% permethrin) may be used. Boiling clothing has also been done; if the problem is lice and boiling clothing is not an option, avoiding any physical contact with infested clothing for five days will allow the lice to die because they need a blood meal in less than five days to survive. Although vaccines have been made in the past, currently there is no commercially available vaccine for endemic or epidemic typhus. The CDC does not recommend taking any antibiotics to prevent the disease.