Typhus

  • Medical Author:
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

  • Medical Editor: Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP
    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP

    Mary D. Nettleman, MD, MS, MACP is the Chair of the Department of Medicine at Michigan State University. She is a graduate of Vanderbilt Medical School, and completed her residency in Internal Medicine and a fellowship in Infectious Diseases at Indiana University.

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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.

Where can people get more information about typhus?

"Dermatologic Manifestations of Scrub Typhus," Medscape.com

"Rickettsial (Spotted & Typhus Fevers) & Related Infections (Anaplasmosis & Ehrlichiosis)," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

"Typhus," Medscape.com

Medically reviewed by Robert Cox, MD; American Board of Internal Medicine with subspecialty in Infectious Disease

REFERENCES:

Adjemian, J., S. Park, J. Campbell, et al. "Murine Typhus in Austin, Texas, USA, 2008." Emerging Infect. Dis. 16.3 (2011): 412-417.

Green, J., J. Singh, M. Cheung, et al. "A Cluster of Pediatric Endemic Typhus Cases in Orange County, California." Pediatr. Infect. Dis. 30.2 (2011): 163-165.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/23/2015

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