Murine typhus; Epidemic typhus; Endemic typhus; Brill-Zinsser disease; Jail fever
Typhus is a bacterial disease spread by lice or fleas.
Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii. The form of typus depends on which type of bacteria causes the infection.
Rickettsia typhi causes murine or endemic typhus. Endemic typhus is uncommon in the United States. It is usually seen in areas where hygiene is poor and the temperature is cold. Endemic typhus is sometimes called "jail fever."
Murine typhus occurs in the southeastern and southern United States, often during the summer and fall. It is rarely deadly. Risk factors for murine typhus include:
Rickettsia prowazekii causes epidemic typhus and Brill-Zinsser disease. Brill-Zinsser disease is a mild form of epidemic typhus. It occurs when the disease re-activates in a person who was previously infected. It is more common in the elderly. Lice and fleas of flying squirrels spread the bacteria.
Bechah Y, Capo C, Mege JL, Raoult D. Epidemic typhus. Lancet Infect Dis. 2008;8:417-426.
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