Rickettsia typhi and Rickettsia prowazekii are the types of bacteria that cause typhus. The specific form of your typhus infection depends on which of these bacteria has infected you.
Rickettsia prowazekii causes epidemic typhus and Brill-Zinsser disease. Rickettsia typhi causes murine and endemic typhus.
Epidemic typhus is a severe infection caused by Rickettsia prowazekii. It is disseminated via body lice feces. Symptoms of epidemic typhus include:
This previously widespread disease now only turns up in Mexico, Central America, China, Africa and some Himalayan countries.
Brill-Zinsser disease is a mild form of the rash and high fever causing epidemic typhus. It arises out of Rickettsia prowazekii reactivation in those previously infected.
Murine typhus is an infection caused by Rickettsia typhi and transmitted by rat fleas. It occurs in the southeastern and southern United States. Often igniting during the summer and fall.
The aforementioned typhus bacteria is dispersed around India, Pakistan and Southeast Asia as well. Your symptoms for murine typhus may involve:
- dry cough
- abdominal pain
- nausea & vomiting
- dull red rash spreading out torso
- extremely high fever ~ 105 F or more, lasting as long as 2 weeks
Murine typhus is rarely fatal, as it is readily treatable.
Endemic typhus crops up in poor hygiene areas where the temperature is cold. Sometimes referred to as “jail fever” and rarely a U.S. infectious disease concern.
Lice and fleas dropping off from flying squirrels spread the Rickettsia typhi bacteria. Symptoms of endemic typhus encompass:
- joint pain
- severe myalgia
- severe headache
- high fever ~104 F
- spreading torso rash
- visual light sensitivity
Those with severe typhus may also develop petechiae.
Prompt antibiotic treatment is tantamount, especially the epidemic typhus infected. Complete recovery can be expected if early treatment is received.
Untreated murine typhus has an exceptionally low death rate. However, swift antibiotic treatment virtually guarantees your cure.
Rat population curtailment and cleanliness are important health measures for abating joint pain, high fever and the rash of typhus.