Typhus: Definition



Definition of Typhus

Typhus is the name given to three different diseases that are spread by lice, fleas, or ticks that carry the bacteria Rickettsia. There are three recognized types of typhus: Epidemic typhus, Murine typhus, and Queensland tick typhus.

Epidemic typhus gets its name because it often causes epidemics after wars and natural disasters. It is caused by the bacteria known as Rickettsia prowazekii that is transmitted by human body lice. The louse feeds on a human who is infected with the bacteria. The bacteria is able to grow in the stomach and intestines of the louse. It is then excreted in the waste of the louse once it has moved on to another person. This infects the other person with the disease when they scratch or touch a wound after being bitten by the louse. These conditions of wounded and weakened individuals are often prevalent after wars or natural disasters, which provides the optimal conditions for the spread of the disease.

Murine typhus is also commonly known as endemic typhus. This form of typhus is transmitted by fleas that normally travel on rats. This type of typhus is caused by the bacteria Rickettsia typhi. Humans become infected when a flea excretes waste on them and they scratch the feces into a wound. This type of typhus is commonly found in southern California, Texas, and Hawaii.

Queensland tick typhus occurs in the Queensland area of Australia. It is caused by the bacteria Rickettsia australis. This bacteria is often found living in the guts of ticks. It is transmitted by ticks that bite humans.

Typhus also a disease caused by rickettsiae, characterized by a purple rash, headaches, fever, and usually delirium, and historically a cause of high mortality during wars and famines. There are several forms, transmitted by vectors such as lice, ticks, mites, and rat fleas.

Simple Definition of typhus

medical : a serious disease that is carried by small insects that live on the bodies of people and animals and that causes high fever, headache, and a dark red rash

Full Definition of typhus

any of various bacterial diseases caused by rickettsias

  • a :  a severe human febrile disease that is caused by one (Rickettsia prowazekii) transmitted especially by body lice and is marked by high fever, stupor alternating with delirium, intense headache, and a dark red rash

  • b :  murine typhus

  • c :  scrub typhus

Read more about Typhus causes, symptoms, epidemic & pictures