Typhus: Basic Vaccine Information

Picture of Typhus Vaccines

Typhus Vaccine

Typhus vaccines are vaccines developed to protect against typhus. One typhus vaccine consists of formaldehyde-inactivated Rickettsia prowazekii. Two doses are injected subcutaneously four weeks apart. Booster doses are required every six to twelve months.

Typhus facts

  • Typhus is a bacterial disease; there are two types termed endemic and epidemic.
  • Typhus has a long and deadly history, especially epidemic typhus.
  • Typhus is caused by bacteria.Rickettsia prowazekii causes epidemic typhus. Rickettsia typhiand, occasionally, R. felis cause endemic typhus and are transmitted to humans by vectors such as lice (mainly epidemic) and fleas (mainly endemic).
  • Risk factors include visiting or living in areas where rats, mice, and other animals have high populations (for example, disaster areas, poverty-stricken areas, refugee camps, jails) where vectors such as fleas and lice can carry the bacteria from the animals to infect humans.
  • Endemic typhus symptoms can include rash that begins on the body trunk and spreads, high fever, nausea, malaise, diarrhea, and vomiting; Epidemic typhus has similar but more severe symptoms, including bleeding into the skin, delirium, hypotension, and death.
  • Typhus is diagnosed by patient history, physical exam, and several tests (PCR, histological staining) based on immunological techniques. Some tests may need to be done in state or CDC labs.
  • Antibiotics (for example, azithromycin [Zithromax, Zmax], doxycycline[Vibramycin, Oracea, Adoxa, Atridox], tetracycline [Sumycin], or chloramphenicol) are used to treat endemic and epidemic typhus.
  • The prognosis for endemic typhus is usually good to excellent, but the epidemic typhus prognosis can range from good, with early effective treatment, to poor, with the elderly often having the worst prognosis.
  • Both types of typhus can be reduced or prevented by good hygiene and clean living conditions that reduce or eliminate exposure to rats, mice, and other animals and the vectors that they carry (lice, fleas). There is no commercially available vaccine against either endemic or epidemic typhus.

Not to be confused with typhoid vaccine.

What Is the Typhoid Vaccine?

Typhoid Vaccine, Live (Oral Route) Description and Brand Names. Typhoid fever is a serious disease that can cause death. It is caused by a germ called Salmonella typhi, and is spread most often through infected food or water.

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