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- Acute infection caused by three species of Rickettsia
- Epidemic typhus: human-to-human transmission by body louse; primarily in setting of refugee camps, war, famine, and disaster. Recurrent disease occurs years after initial infection and can be a source of human outbreak. Flying squirrels are a reservoir.
- Endemic (murine) typhus: spread 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 United States (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
Etiology and Pathophysiology
- Vector exposure
- Travel to endemic countries
Elderly may have more severe 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 for those at high risk of exposure (typhus vaccine production discontinued in the United States)