Typhus Overview

By:Andrea Occhiuti, Taylor McLelland

Typhus has been around for centuries and has aquired many different names due to the conditions in which the disease appeared in. Some of the names it went by were camp fever , jail fever, spotted fever, famine fever, ship fever, el tabarillo, goal fever, and war fever. It was medically known as louse-borne or classic Typhus.

Typhus Chart

The louse is the vector that transmits Typhus to humans.

Causative Micro-organism: Typhus is caused by the obligate parasite, Rickettsiae. The two forms of it are Rickettsiae Prowazeki, which is lice on humans, and Rickettsiae typhi, which is fleas on rats. Rickettsiae Prowazeki was named after Dr. Howard Taylor Ricketts and Stanislaus Josef Mathias von Prowazeki, both of whom discovered the micro-organism and died while investigating it.

Primary Hosts: The primary hosts of Typhus are humans and rats.
Cycle of Transmission

Vectors:The main vectors of Typhus are the flea and louse.

Modes of Transmission: Infected lice transmit Typhus to humans or rats by bitng them. Endemic Typhus is often transmitted in rat-infested buildings and houses in harbor or riverine areas.The epidemic Typhus usually occurs in situations where there is overcrowding in a poverty stricken area or an area with undernourishment. In addition, it transmitted easily in places where people wear the same clothes for lengthy periods of time. The disease originally had the name war fever. War destroys areas of land and the soldiers are forced to live in desolate areas in the same clothes they arrived there in. This puts them in prime conditions to catch Typhus.
People involved in outdoor recreational activities are more likely to get Scrub and Tick Typhus because they come in contact with mite or tick infested habitats that are home to rodent hosts of these insects. This
disease spreads at a rapid pace.

Video on transmission and prevention, in modern day, of the Typhus Disease:

Infected bite mark.

Organ Systems Affected:
Typhus Cerebralis affects mainly the brain, spinal marrow, or the nervous system.
Typhus abdominalis affects the abdominal organs. The brain is gradually affected as well.
Pneumo-Typhus affects the lungs. The heart and large blood vessels are also sometimes affected.

Major Symptoms:
The incubation period of Typhus can last from 21 to 28 days.

Symptoms could include:

· Back Pain
· Muscle Pain
· Dry Cough
· Hacking Cough
· Severe Headache
· Fever
· Pain
· Rash( red covers the trunk, arms and legs)
· Vomiting
· Nausea
· Delirium
· Stupor
· Eschar
· Loss of Appetite
· Joint Pain
· Low Blood Pressure
· Feels Hot to Touch
· Light hurts eyes
· Chills
· Abdominal Pain

Mortality Rate:
The fatality rate of untreated cases of Typhus is between 10 to 40%. The mortality rate increases with age and is rarely fatal in children less than 10 years old. People over the age of 50 years old are more likely to die of Typhus and have a 60% chance of dieing if they go untreated. Deaths have not been seen in zoonotic form regardless of treatment.

Posters demonstrating precaution menthods.

Treatment includes antibiotics such as doxycycline, tetracycline, and chloramphenicol(less common). Patients with epidemic Typhus may need intravenous fluids and oxygen. Without treatement the disease can be deadly and turn into the epidemic form. However, treatment with antibiotics, cures almost every patient.
In the past, Typhus usually went untreated because victims
were usually infected while in prison or in war. It was not till much later that a vaccine was developed from the intestines of lice in the 1930's by Professor Rudolf Stepfan Weigl of the University of Jan Kazimierz in Poland.

People infected by Typhus in prisons.

Typhus can affect all age groups however, those younger than the age of ten are less likely to die from the disease than those over the age of 50. This disease is most likely contracted by those in prison and those who were invovlved in the war. Also, people living in poor rural areas with little sanitation are also likely to contract the disease.

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