What Is the Typhus Disease?


Quick Answer

The typhus disease is the result of bites from fleas, mites and ticks carrying the rickettsiae bacteria, Healthline reports. Scratching the bite releases the bacteria into the bloodstream, which allows them to multiply. Untreated typhus can lead to hepatitis, intestinal bleeding and a decrease in blood volume, and it can sometimes be fatal, especially for patients with underlying diseases. Prevention of the disease is easier than treatment, as no vaccine is currently produced.

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Full Answer

The most common symptoms of typhus include headache, high fever, body chills and a rash, states Healthline. Diagnosing the disease can be difficult since it shares many of the same symptoms as dengue, malaria and brucellosis. There are three types of diagnostic tests for typhus: Western blot, an immunofluorescence test and a blood test. Physicians often treat typhus with antibiotics, most commonly doxycycline.

Although a vaccine has existed for epidemic typhus since World War II, manufacturing stopped due to low demand, notes Healthline. Therefore, the only way to prevent contracting the disease is to avoid the insects that spread rickettsiae bacteria. Tips for preventing the disease include maintaining good personal hygiene; controlling insect populations, particularly those that carry the bacteria; and avoiding areas where typhus exposure has occurred.

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