Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Typhus Overview

What is typhus?
A person with typhus has a life-threatening infection, caused by Rickettsia bacteria. The Rickettsia bacteria cause inflammation of small blood vessels. The inflamed blood vessels are unable to deliver blood and oxygen to tissues, which damages organs throughout the body. The bacteria are transmitted to humans via bites from fleas, lice and chiggers. There are only about 100 cases of typhus in the US each year.

What are the symptoms of typhus?
Initial symptoms of typhus include fever, headache, muscles aches, fatigue, and a rash. The typhus rash starts on the trunk, and spreads to the arms and legs. Additional symptoms of typhus may include a cough, lymph node swelling, and a skin ulcer at the site of the bite. Symptoms of worsening typhus include leg swelling, arm swelling (bilateral), low blood pressure, difficulty breathing, confusion, and coma.

How does the doctor treat typhus?
Treatment for typhus includes antibiotics, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain and fever.

Continue to Typhus Incidence

Last Updated: Aug 16, 2010 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Typhus References
  1. Cunha BA. Osler on typhoid fever: differentiating typhoid from typhus and malaria. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2004 Mar;18(1):111-25. [15081508]
  2. Raoult D, Woodward T, Dumler JS. The history of epidemic typhus. Infect Dis Clin North Am. 2004 Mar;18(1):127-40. [15081509]
  3. Watt G, Parola P. Scrub typhus and tropical rickettsioses. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2003 Oct;16(5):429-36. [14501995]
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