Typhus: History, Prognosis and Preventions

typhus rash images

What Is Typhus?

Typhus is a disease caused by an infection with the Rickettsia microorganism. Fleas, mites (chiggers), lice, or ticks transmit it once they bite you. Fleas, mites, lice, and ticks are types of invertebrate animals known as arthropods. Once infected arthropods bite someone, they’ll leave the bacteria that cause typhus behind. Scratching the bite opens the skin and allows the bacteria to enter the bloodstream. Once within the blood, the bacteria reproduce and grow.

What is the History of Typhus?

One of the first written descriptions of the sickness (probably of epidemic typhus) describing rash, sores, delirium, and about 17,000 deaths of Spanish troops was during the siege of granada in 1489. Additional descriptions over time termed the disease gaol or jail fever. In 1759, English authorities estimated about 25th of all prisoners in England died of gaol fever per year. In 1760, the disease was named typhus, from the Greek smoke or stupor because of the symptom of delirium which will develop. Several typhus epidemics raged throughout Europe for many centuries and were typically were associated with poor living conditions caused by wars. For example, some historians estimate a lot of of Napoleon’s troops were killed by typhus than by Russian troopers during their retreat from moscow in 1812. Ireland and the Americas recorded many epidemics. Within the 1830s, over 100,000 Irish died from outbreaks. In the U.S. between 1837 and 1873, outbreaks were recorded in philadelphia, Concord, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.

read more about: Typhus: Symptoms, Signs and photos

Henrique da Rocha lima, a Brazilian doctor, discovered the cause of epidemic typhus in 1916 while doing research on typhus in germany. However, still over three million deaths were attributed to typhus during and when world war I. Delousing stations were frequently set up to try to cut back the rate of typhus infection and death among troops and civilians. Despite the fact that a typhus vaccine was developed before world war II, typhus epidemics continued , particularly in German concentration camps during the Holocaust (Anne Frank died in a camp at age 15 from typhus). Eventually, ddt was used to kill lice at the tip of world war II and only a number of epidemics (Africa, middle east, eastern Europe, and Asia) have occurred since then. Because of toxicity, ddt has been prohibited in the U.S. since 1972.

Endemic typhus appears to be increasing or maybe is being recognized and correctly diagnosed more often in the U.S. an example is the following: although endemic typhus is typically found in cooler environments, in 2011, Travis County, Texas (including austin, Texas) was declared to be endemic for murine (endemic) typhus with 53 cases diagnosed. California also has endemic typhus.

Prognosis of Typhus

The prognosis depends on what styles of complications a private patient experiences. Whereas children typically recover well from epidemic typhus, older adults might have as much as a 60 minutes death rate without treatment. Brill-Zinsser, on the other hand, carries no threat of death. People typically recover uneventfully from endemic typhus, though the elderly, those with different medical issues, or people mistakenly treated with sulfa drugs might have a 10th death rate from the illness. Scrub typhus responds well to appropriate treatment, however untreated patients have a death rate of about seven-membered.

The relatively high death rate from untreated typhus is one reason why some researchers are concerned that its causative organisms could be utilized in the future as agents of bioterrorism.

Typhus Prevention

Avoid areas where you may encounter rat fleas or lice. Good sanitation and public health measures reduce the rat population.
Measures to get rid of lice once an infection has been found include:

  • Bathing
  • Boiling clothes or avoiding infested clothing for at least five days (lice can die without feeding on blood)
  • Using insecticides (10% ddt, 125th malathion, or 125th permethrin)

read more about: Typhus: Diagnosis, Treatment & Management

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