Typhus, also known as typhus fever, is a group of infectious diseases that include epidemic typhus, scrub typhus, and murine typhus. Common symptoms include fever, headache, and a rash. Typically these begin one to two weeks after exposure.
|Other names||Typhus fever|
|Rash caused by epidemic typhus|
|Symptoms||Fever, headache, rash|
|Usual onset||1–2 weeks after exposure|
|Causes||Bacterial infection spread by parasites|
|Risk factors||Poor sanitation|
|Prevention||Avoiding exposure to organisms known to carry the disease|
The diseases are caused by specific types of bacterial infection. Epidemic typhus is due to Rickettsia prowazekii spread by body lice, scrub typhus is due to Orientia tsutsugamushi spread by chiggers, and murine typhus is due to Rickettsia typhi spread by fleas.
Vaccines have been developed, but none are commercially available. Prevention is achieved by reducing exposure to the organisms that spread the disease. Treatment is with the antibiotic doxycycline. Epidemic typhus generally occurs in outbreaks when poor sanitary conditions and crowding are present. While once common, it is now rare. Scrub typhus occurs in Southeast Asia, Japan, and northern Australia. Murine typhus occurs in tropical and subtropical areas of the world.
Typhus has been described since at least 1528 AD. The name comes from the Greek tûphos (τῦφος) meaning fever or delusion, describing the state of mind of those infected. While "typhoid" means "typhus-like", typhus and typhoid fever are distinct diseases caused by different types of bacteria.