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Typhus

Last updated: June 2, 2021

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Typhus is a group of infectious diseases that includes endemic typhus, epidemic typhus, and scrub typhus. Endemic typhus is caused by Rickettsia typhi, which is transmitted via rat and cat fleas. Epidemic typhus is caused by R. prowazekii, which is transmitted by the body louse. Scrub typhus is caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi, which is transmitted by chiggers (mites) from rodents. All three types of typhus manifest with flu-like symptoms and a maculopapular or petechial rash that spreads from the trunk to the extremities. Symptoms in epidemic typhus are often more severe and can include neurological symptoms (e.g., seizures). Clinical features of scrub typhus also include an eschar at the site of mite attachment and lymphadenopathy. Relative bradycardia despite fever may also be seen in scrub typhus. Diagnostics for all three types include serology and positive Weil-Felix reaction, and treatment of all three types includes doxycycline or chloramphenicol.

The rash of Typhus starts on the Trunk.

The rash of Typhus starts on the Trunk.

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  3. Typhus fever (Epidemic louse-borne typhus). https://www.who.int/ith/diseases/typhusfever/en/. Updated: January 1, 2021. Accessed: June 2, 2021.