What Causes Typhus Fever? Symptoms And Treatment Of Typhus Disease

Typhus is a serious infectious disease that is caused by the Rickettsia bacteria. Typhus originates from typhos which means ‘hazy or smoky’, and describes the state of mind of the individual who is afflicted with typhus. Rickettsia cannot survive for a prolonged period of time outside living cells. Most importantly, typhus must not be confused with typhoid, the two are unrelated.

The 2 commonly seen typhus illnesses are louse borne and murine. The two are caused by 2 diverse bacteria; however, they are clinically rather analogous, and share certain characteristic symptoms of high fever and rash. Murine typhus fever is a relatively milder version than the louse borne fever.  Epidemic typhus fever is caused by Rickettsia prowazekii; whilst, Murine typhus fever is caused by Rickettsia typhi.

Characteristically, outbreaks occur in filthy, unclean conditions where people hardly ever change clothes or bathe. The typhus bacteria attack the cells that line the blood vessels in your body. By and large, 7 days after an infectious louse bite, the illness commences.
Murine typhus fever is caused by Rickettsia typhi; and it spreads to humans by rat fleas.

Murine pertains to the scientific name of the animal group that includes mice and rats. Murine typhus fever is a gentler disease than the louse borne typhus. About 1 to 2 weeks after the initial flea bite, the symptoms become evident.

Symptoms Of Epidemic And Murine Typhus Fever

Symptoms of the 2 types of typhus fever are somewhat same; however, here are the typical features of each:

Epidemic typhus:

  • High grade fever with chills.
  • Delirium.
  • Headache.
  • Backache.
  • Bad cough.
  • Joint and bone pains and severe muscle pain.
  • Rashes.
  • Drop in the blood pressure.
  • Extreme sensitivity to light.

Murine typhus:

  • Pain in the abdomen.
  • Backache.
  • Rashes.
  • Headache.
  • High grade fever.
  • Dry cough.
  • Joint and bone pains.
  • Nausea and vomiting.

Treatment For Typhus Disease

  • If left untreated; or any kind of neglect occurs, the disease can prove to be fatal. Timely treatment with antibiotics is very essential. Hospitalization may or may not be required. Commonly prescribed antibiotics are: tetracycline, doxycycline, azithromycin and chloramphenicol.
  • Alongside, the doctor will ensure that you get good supportive treatment in order to hasten recovery and promote healing.
  • It is very vital that you stay well hydrated; drink plenty of water and fluids. Soups, broths, juices and herbal teas are a must. In severe cases, the patient may need to be put on to IV fluids to keep the water-electrolyte balance.
  • Nausea, vomiting and blood pressure need to be managed effectively. Suck on ice chips and have ginger tea frequently through the day. Ginger will help allay most GI discomfort and treat nausea and vomiting efficiently.
  • Pain killers and anti-emetics may be necessary in extreme cases.
  • Echinacea tea has proved to be rather beneficial. It is an immune booster and helps handle the infection better. Echinacea is a powerful anti bacterial and consuming Echinacea tea or having a supplement daily will yield good results. However, do confer with your doctor before staring a supplement.

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