The bacteria Rickettsia


Rash, chills, bad coughing, high fever, joint pain, low blood pressure, inflammation, photophobia, severe headache, severe muscle pain, backache.

Mortality Rate

High without treatment


Vaccination, antibiotics

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Blowing the Whistle

Epidemic typhus Burundi

A patient with a rash caused by typhus

Typhus is a contagious bacterial disease which passes from person to person using lice as a vector. Rats are the reservoir. Rats or lice transmits the organisms to people. Either through a bite or air borne. In some cases R thypi can be motile. There are many different species of this bacteria.The bacteria cannot survive outside of a living cell for extended periods of time. Although some cases the bacteria is known to last as long as 12 months in lower temperatures . Can be treated with proper antibiotics. Thypus will remain dormant in system and can re-activate at any time, causing more severe illnesses. Typhus can be hard to get rid of if not treated properly. All Clothes, linen and anything effected should be disposed of Immediately. Once a common and deadly disease, it is now very rare, affecting less than one person in a million in the modern world. It's decline is primarily due to the use of vaccination even though improved living conditions have played a role and antibiotics are effective against the disease.

Typhus used to thrive in crowded conditions, such as such as prisons, ships, army camps and even quarantine camps. Epidemics would often kill thousands of people, most notably in the great typhus epidemic of 1847 in Canada which killed 20,000 people. However, even though there were vaccines in use after World War I (although they were often dangerous), and the role of lice in the transmission of the disease was understood by the 1920s, it was only after World War II when more effective and safer vaccines became available that the disease started its decline.

Typhus at NIH

Typhus at Wikipedia