What is typhus?

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Typhus is a medical condition that is characterized by infection from the Rickettsiae bacteria family.  There are several forms of this disease but in all types, the infection is secondary to exposure from infected insects like fleas and lice.  The most common forms of typhus are endemic typhus, epidemic typhus, and scrub typhus.  The endemic type is typically spread by an infected flea from rats or cats for example and is common in warm and tropical climates.  When the infected flea defecates on the skin for example, the tendency is that this person will scratch the affected part and get an infected wound.  The epidemic type of typhus meanwhile is spread mainly through lice that are already in the person’s body.  Scrub typhus may come from dust mites that may feed on the dead skin cells of human beings.  When any of these skin cells become wounded, the infection of the Rickettsiae bacteria will spread.

In all forms of typhus, the most common symptom is a very high fever.  The fever typically lasts for more than a week.  There are even cases that it could last for as long as two weeks.  The fever is also typically accompanied with severe headache and night chills. Some typhus patients may also have skin rashes in various parts of the body.  Pains in the muscles and in the abdomen are also common symptoms of having a typhus infection.  There are also patients who complain of vomiting and diarrhea depending on the severity of the infection.

The symptoms of typhus are similar to other medical conditions such as dengue fever and other viral infections for example. This is what makes diagnosis of this condition very difficult.  Doctors typically conduct a thorough medical history involving questions about living environments and recent travels.  Various laboratory tests are also conducted to aid in the diagnosis of typhus.  With bacteria being the culprit in typhus, most cases are managed with antibiotic treatment. Prognosis is good for typhus cases that are detected and treated early.  Typhus cases that are left untreated may result to serious complications and even death.

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