Difference Between Typhus & Typhoid Fever

Typhus: Causes, Symptoms & Diagn


What is Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is an acute illness associated with fever caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria. It can also be caused by Salmonella paratyphi, a related bacterium that usually causes a less severe illness. The bacteria are deposited in water or food by a human carrier and are then spread to other people in the area.

The incidence of typhoid fever in the United States has markedly decreased since the early 1900s, when tens of thousands of cases were reported in the U.S. Today, less than 400 cases are reported annually in the United States, mostly in people who have recently traveled to Mexico and South America. This improvement is the result of better environmental sanitation. India, Pakistan, and Egypt are also known as high-risk areas for developing this disease. Worldwide, typhoid fever affects more than 21 million people annually, with about 200,000 people dying from the disease.

Symptoms of Typhoid Fever

Signs and symptoms are likely to develop gradually often appearing one to three weeks after exposure to the disease.

Early illness

Once signs and symptoms do appear, you’re likely to experience:

  • Fever that starts low and increases daily, possibly reaching as high as 104.9 F (40.5 C)
  • Headache
  • Weakness and fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Sweating
  • Dry cough
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Rash
  • Extremely swollen abdomen

Later illness

If you don’t receive treatment, you may:

  • Become delirious
  • Lie motionless and exhausted with your eyes half-closed in what’s known as the typhoid state

In addition, life-threatening complications often develop at this time.

In some people, signs and symptoms may return up to two weeks after the fever has subsided.

Treatment for Typhoid Fever

The only effective treatment for typhoid is antibiotics. The most commonly used are ciprofloxacin (for non-pregnant adults) and ceftriaxone. Other than antibiotics, it is sensible to rehydrate by drinking adequate water.

In more severe cases, where the bowel has become perforated, surgery may be required.

What is Typhus

Typhus is a term used to describe infections by several types of rickettsial bacteria. Rickettsiae are a diverse group of bacteria some of which can be transmitted to humans by ectoparasites such as fleas, lice, ticks or mites. The typhus group of rickettsia includes:

  • Epidemic typhus (Rickettsia prowazeki), transmitted through the bites of human body lice.
  • Murine typhus (Rickettsia typhi), transmitted by fleas carried by rats and mice. Also known as endemic typhus.
  • Spotted Fever group rickettsiae, including Queensland Tick Typhus (R. australis) and Flinders Island Spotted Fever (R. honei) which are spread through the bite of infected ticks. Cat Flea typhus (R. felis) is now recognised worldwide, including Australia, and is transmitted by infected fleas.
  • Scrub typhus (Orientia tsutsugamushi), transmitted by the bites of larval mites which live on rodents. It occurs widely in rural settings in Asia and is a risk in parts of tropical northern Australia.

Symptoms of Typhus

Symptoms of murine or endemic typhus may include:

  • Abdominal pain
  • Backache
  • Dull red rash that begins on the middle of the body and spreads
  • Fever (can be extremely high 105°F to 106°F, 40.6°C to 41.1°C) that may last up to 2 weeks
  • Hacking, dry cough
  • Headache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting

Symptoms of epidemic typhus may include:

  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Delirium
  • High fever
  • Joint pain
  • Lights that appear very bright; light may hurt the eyes
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rash that begins on the chest and spreads to the rest of the body (except the
  • palms of the hands and soles of the feet)
  • Severe headache
  • Severe muscle pain
  • Stupor

The early rash is a light rose color and fades when you press on it. Later, the rash becomes dull and red and does not fade. People with severe typhus may also develop small areas of bleeding into the skin.

Treatment for Typhus

Antibiotic therapy is recommended for both endemic and epidemic typhus infections because early treatment with antibiotics (for example, azithromycin, doxycycline, tetracycline, or chloramphenicol) can cure most people infected with the bacteria. Consultation with an infectious-disease expert is advised, especially if epidemic typhus or typhus in pregnant females is diagnosed. Delays in treatment may allow renal, lung, or nervous system problems to develop. Some patients, especially the elderly, may die.

Difference between Typhoid and Typhus?

Typhus is a febrile illness caused by bites from fleas carried on mice (if I remember correctly). People get fever, rash, myalagias, etc. Typhoid is a condition cause from S. Typhoid a subtype of salmonella bacteria that infects people and can become chronic from moving into the gallbladder from the GI tract.

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