Situation With Typhus in Texas

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There are two kinds of typhus (vector-borne disease): endemic typhus and epidemic typhus. Pathogens such as Rickettsia prowazekii causes epidemic typhus which can be transmitted by lice while Rickettsia typhi and R. felis cause endemic typhus which can be transmitted by fleas (7). Living or visiting territories where typhus is endemic can be a risk factor. These territories include several urban communities where rodent populations are high, and zones where rubbish collects and cleanliness might be low. Fiasco zones, destitute camps, or neediness stricken zones are circumstances that enable rodents to get close to individuals who have the highest threat of developing typhus (7). Endemic typhus side effects can incorporate a skin rash that starts on the trunk and spreads throughout the rest of the body, high fever, queasiness, discomfort, looseness of the bowels, and heaving. Epidemic typhus side effects are more serious, including bleeding skin, insanity, low blood pressure, and death (7). Doctors diagnose typhus by checking the patient’s history, a physical test, and PCR testing or histological staining based of immunological procedures (7). Azithromycin (Zithromax, Zmax), doxycycline (Vibramycin, Atridox), tetracycline (Sumycin), or chloramphenicols are antibiotics that are utilized to treat both endemic and epidemic typhus (7). Endemic typhus prognosis normally has positive results; however, epidemic typhus prognosis can be successful treating it early or unsuccessful with elders having the worst prognosis (7). Great cleanliness and clean living conditions can decrease the amount of rodents, mice, and different animals and vectors that they convey such as lice or fleas which can avert or diminish one’s hazard for the two kinds of typhus. There is no industrially accessible vaccine against either endemic or epidemic typhus (7).

Keywords: flea-borne typhus, rickettsias, cat flea, typhus texas, typhus disease prevalence, public health, endemic flea-borne typhus

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Typhus is a flea-bone disease that is caused by a bacterium called Rickettsia that is transmittable by infected fleas from cats, dogs, opossums, or other small animals (2). There are three groups of typhus disease which includes epidemic typhus (louse-borne), murine typhus (flea-borne) and scrub typhus (mite-borne) (1). The disease is spread through pathogens that include Rickettsia typhi and Rickettsia felis for murine typhus, Rickettsia prowazekii for Epidemic typhus, and Orientia tsutsugamushi and Orienta chuto for Scrub typhus. These pathogens are spread though vectors which include Rickettisa typhi (Xenopsylla cheopi), Rickettsia felis (Ctenocephalides felis), Rickettsia prowazekii (Pediculus humanus), and Orienta tsutsugami (Leptotrombidium deliense) (2). The natural reservoirs for these vectors are rats, other rodents, felines, and opossums for Rickettsia typhi, felines and opossums for Rickettsia felis, a southern flying squirrel for Rickettsia prowazekii, and rats, mice, and small birds for Orienta tsutsugami.

Murine typhus which is caused by Rickettsia typhi has reappeared in Galveston (Texas Gulf Coast), where it is enzootic among bugs and opossums according to the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (2). An epidemiological examination of typhus directed by Murray et al. uncovers that the greater part of the cases are as of now announced from South Texas, with Nueces County having the biggest number of instances of the 1,762 cases somewhere in the range of 2003 and 2013 (2). More than one portion of the case patients revealed insects in the home, while around 33% revealed being bit by a bug before getting sick (2).

Figure 1 shows the number of cases reported by county of residence in Texas.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), flea-borne typhus was a nationally notifiable disease from 1930 until 1987. In the 1930s, about 14,500 cases were reported; because there was an increase in the number of insect borne typhus reports during the 1930s and 1950s, numbers were accounted for every year (3). It wasn’t until the 1950s that there was a decrease in the reports of insect-borne typhus. This was believed to be due to a widespread advance in sanitation and pest management (3). By 1958, only a hundred cases were accounted for every year. On account of the uncommonness of the sickness, in 1987, the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists casted a ballot to expel flea-borne typhus from the list of notifiable diseases (3). Specific territories including California, Hawaii, and Texas still have reported cases. According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, the majority of U.S. cases occur in Texas, which reported 3,048 confirmed or probable cases of flea-borne typhus during 1985–2015 (5).

Table 1 shows the number of reported cases in Texas every year from 1930-1970.

According to Pieracci et. al, literature reports in the past have reported that the risk of complications increases with age (5). They found that patients over 50 years old may have a greater risk of poor outcomes (5). Thus, clinicians might need to think about more elder people, delay in treatment, and a past filled with liquor maltreatment as potential hazard factors for insect borne typhus however more case studies will need to be conducted to identify severe factors for typhus (5). Risk factors can include living or visiting territories where typhus is endemic. These territories include many urban communities where rodent populations are high, and zones where rubbish collects and cleanliness might be low. Fiasco zones, destitute camps, neediness stricken zones, and other comparative circumstances that enable rodents to come into close contact with individuals have the greatest threat of developing typhus. These are similar sort of conditions that lead to infections such as cholera, tuberculosis, and the flu. Spring and summer months are when insects (and ticks) are generally dynamic, yet contaminations can happen anytime during the year.

Typhus is an infection brought about by microbes (essentially Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii). There are two significant sorts of typhus: endemic (or murine typhus) and epidemic typhus (7). The microscopic organisms are small and extremely hard to develop. They were initially believed to be viruses. The infection happens after microbes (Rickettsia) bite people, generally by vectors such as insects or lice that have gained infection from other small animals (rodents, felines, opossums, raccoons) (7). Endemic typhus (caused by R. typhi) is additionally named murine typhus and ‘jail fever”. Endemic typhus can come from a territory or area that has animal population with individuals from its population constantly getting tainted with R. typhi that through insect vectors can unexpectedly contaminate people (7). Epidemic typhus (caused by R. prowazekii) is the more serious type of typhus. Epidemic typhus can come from a couple of animals, (normally rodents) by means of lice vectors which can unexpectedly taint enormous quantities of people when certain environmental conditions such as poor cleanliness, swarmed human living conditions can cause more pathogenic R. prowazekii (7). Epidemic typhus has a milder structure named Brill-Zinsser disease, which happens when R. prowazekii microbes reactivate in an individual recently tainted with epidemic typhus (7).

In epidemic typhus, the arthropod vector, Pediculus corporis, is the only vector that infects humans (1). The etiologic agent of typhus is Rickettsia prowazekii, which lives in the alimentary tract of Pediculus corporis (1). According to Okulicz, a Rickettsia-harboring louse bites a human, while it is eating the louse defecates and when the host scratches the infected area the lice are crushed. Thus causing Rickettsia to enter the host through its bite wound and travel to the bloodstream developing rickettsemia (1). Typhus is caused by Gram-negative coccobacilli-shaped bacteria, individuals from the genus Rickettsia that are intracellular parasites of numerous creatures and use the parts inside the cell to endure and duplicate (7). Typhus is now and then commonly named as flea-borne typhus, tick-borne typhus, or louse-borne typhus, contingent upon the vector that transmits the microscopic organisms. They are hard to develop because they typically just develop inside cells they taint (7). Once in a while, the microorganisms may get torpid in tainted cells, and years later again start to duplicate causing Brill-Zinsser disease. For the most part, typhus pursues an animal (opossum, cat, or mouse) to vector (flea, tick, or louse) cycle (7). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, insect borne typhus is spread to individuals through contact with contaminated fleas. Fleas become tainted when they bite contaminated animals (rodents, felines, or opossums) (6). Fleas can leave feces (flea dirt) or saliva when they feed. Once a tainted flea bites the host, the bite breaks the skin. The feces or saliva is scoured into the bite wound causing an infection. This microscopic organism isn’t spread from individual to individual (6). After 2 weeks after being infected, people may experience fever and chills, body aches and muscle pains, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, cough, or a rash (6). Epidemic typhus side effects become increasingly serious. The rash may cover the whole body with the exception of the palms of the hands and the bottoms of the feet. Patients may have additional side effects such as petechiae, hypotension, and shock which can be hazardous (7).

Doctors base their analysis on the patient’s clinical history, physical test, and tests dependent on recognizable proof of the bacterial genus and species by PCR testing of a skin biopsy from skin rash, or blood tests (7). Immunohistological stainging can distinguish the microscopic organisms inside the tainted tissue which is generally skin tissue (7). Typhus can likewise be analyzed, typically late or after the ailment has been treated with anti-infection agents when antibodies are distinguished by immunological procedures. These tests help recognize epidemic and endemic typhus, Bacillus anthracis, and other viral infections (7).

Doctors suggest antibiotic treatment for both endemic and epidemic typhus diseases in light of the fact that early treatment with anti-infection agents (for instance, azithromycin, doxycycline, antibiotic medication, or chloramphenicol) can cure many people contaminated with typhus (7). If typhus is diagnosed in pregnant females they should consult an infectious-disease expert. Postponements in treatment may permit renal, lung, or sensory system issues from forming. A few patients, particularly the old, may bite the dust (7). If found early and treatment is used correctly the yield is a great visualization for practically all patients with any of the sorts of typhus. Deferred, undiscovered, or untreated typhus has a less encouraging anticipation; however, the prognosis is identified with the type of typhus (7). For instance, untreated endemic typhus has a passing rate under 2% of patients, however, untreated epidemic typhus has a demise rate that ranges from about 10%-60% of contaminated patients, with those more than 60 years old having the most demise rates (7). Regardless of whether the patient doesn’t kick the bucket, complications such as renal deficiency, pneumonia, and focal sensory system issues may develop in endemic and epidemic typhus (7).

According to CDC, you should clean your yard with the goal that rodents, opossums, and stray felines can’t live there (8). Evacuate any brush or waste, keep the grass cut, and keep kindling off the ground. Try not to forget about pet nourishment around evening time as this draws in different animals. Keep rodents from living in your home. Treat for bugs before you start rat control in your home or yard (8). When the rodent dies, the insects will look for new hosts which could potentially be you, your family, or friends. There are a few business bug control items available to buy. Pick one and adhere to the guidelines (8). If you own pets you should control the fleas on them to prevent it from feeding on you. In the event that they interact with tainted fleas, they could bring them inside your home (8). Endeavours to anticipate typhus have been successful when individuals can keep away from contact with the vectors that spread typhus or fecal droppings from rodents (7). In zones where endemic typhus exists, or where epidemic typhus exists, endeavours to get local animals free from insects are great preventive measures (7). Numerous specialists propose that great sanitation, bug control measures, and decreasing populations of rodents, mice, and different animal that may convey the microscopic organisms and their vectors is viable (7). Use anti-agents and bug sprays (for instance, 1% malathion or 1% permethrin) if fleas and lice dwell in the nearby condition. In the event that the issue is lice and boiling garments isn’t a choice, keeping away from any physical contact with invaded apparel for five days will enable the lice to kick the bucket since they need a blood feast in under five days to endure (7). As of now, there is no industrial accessible antibody for endemic or epidemic typhus. The CDC doesn’t prescribe taking any anti-infection agents to counteract the malady (7).

Flea-borne typhus, likewise called endemic typhus and epidemic typhus, is a rickettsial sickness brought about by the life form Rickettsia typhi. Another organism, R. felis, may cause epidemic typhus. Rickettsiae are a sort of microorganisms (7). A large portion of the epidemic typhus cases in Texas happen in South Texas from Nueces County southward to the Rio Grande Valley, however in the previous 10 years, new territories have developed in Bexar, Harris, and Travis provinces, among others (7). Rodents and their insects are the normal repositories (creatures that both keep up and transmit the malady life form) for bug-borne typhus. Different animals, for example, opossums and residential felines, may likewise be associated with the transmission of flea-borne typhus. Insects, for example, the rodent bug, Xenopsylla cheopis, and the feline bug, Ctenocephalides felis, are the most widely recognized vectors (creatures that move the malady starting with one host then onto the next) of flea-borne typhus (7). Individuals get flea-borne typhus from a tainted flea. Most fleas poop while gnawing; the dung of tainted insects contain the rickettsial life form. The rickettsiae enter the body through the bite wound or from an individual scratching the infected territory. It is conceivable to get insect-borne typhus by breathing in sullied, dried bug excrement (7). The most ideal approach to shield yourself and your family from insect borne typhus is to: Clean your yard with the goal that rodents, opossums, and stray felines can’t live there. Evacuate any brush, keep the grass cut, and keep kindling off the ground. Try not to forget about pet nourishment around evening time as this pulls in different animals. Keep rodents from living in your home. Treat for insects before you start rat control in your home or yard. There are a few business bug control items available to buy. Pick one and adhere to the guidelines. In the event that you possess pets, control the bugs on them consistently. On the off chance that they interact with tainted bugs, they could bring them home to you. Get some information about bug control items that are protected to use on your pets (7).


  1. Okulicz, Jason F. “Typhus.” Background, Pathophysiology, Epidemiology, 20 Oct. 2019,
  2. Hotez, Peter J. “The Rise of Neglected Tropical Diseases in the ‘New Texas.’” PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Public Library of Science, 18 Jan. 2019,
  3. “Historical Trends.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 July 2019,
  4. Texas Department of State Health Services. “Flea-Borne Typhus.” Texas Department of State Health Services,
  5. Pieracci, Emily G, et al. “Fatal Flea-Borne Typhus in Texas: A Retrospective Case Series, 1985-2015.” The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, May 2017,
  6. “Flea-Borne (Murine Typhus).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 3 Oct. 2019,
  7. Davis, Charles Patrick. “Typhus Treatment, Symptoms, Prevention & Causes.” MedicineNet, MedicineNet, 8 Feb. 2019,
  8. Texas Department of State Health Services. “Flea-Borne Typhus Information.” Texas Department of State Health Services,


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