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What is Typhus Disease?

Typhus is one of the common diseases that tend to affect people today. The disease is caused due to the presence of the orientia or rickettsia bacteria. The disease is spread from the bites of infected mites, lice, and fleas. In the present day, modern hygiene standards have resulted in the elimination of the disease. 

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However, there is still a chance that the disease might occur in certain locations where the basic sanitization isn’t good enough. An infected animal can also pass the disease to human beings. There are three different types of typhus diseases that are caused due to the presence of different bacteria. Typhus disease can be classified into 3 different types. These types are known as murine typhus, scrub typhus, and epidemic typhus


What is Murine Typhus? 

Murine typhus is a type of typhus disease that is caused by fleas to different people. In case the fleas bite the infected animals, they have a chance of contracting the disease. Some of the most common causes of murine typhus have been seen in places such as Hawaii, Texas, and California. 

What is Epidemic Typhus? 

Epidemic typhus is known as a very rare variety of typhus diseases. It can be spread from the bites of infected lice in the body. This case is most unlikely to happen unless the person is spending time in crowded places. There is another variant of the epidemic typhus that has a chance of spreading from the flying squirrels that have been infected by the bacteria. However, these cases are also pretty rare.


What is Scrub Typhus? 

Scrub typhus can be spread due to the action of infected mites or chiggers. This type of disease is found mostly in the different parts of Japan, India, Southeast Asia, China, northern Australia. 

The doctors will easily be able to treat all these diseases with the help of antibiotics. However, they can cause some serious ailments if left untreated, so it is important to have the right kind of treatment in order to ensure that there is no exposure from the typhus disease. 

Symptoms of Typhus

There are different symptoms for different types. However, the person might start to feel sick right after 10-14 days after the bacteria has been introduced into the system. Some of the common symptoms include chills, headache, fever, aches in the muscle, rashes. 

The murine typhus symptoms might include: 

  • Coughing

  • Nausea 

  • Loss of appetite 

  • Stomach pain 

  • Vomiting tendencies

In the case of epidemic typhus, the symptoms are: 

  • Confusion 

  • Fast breathing 

  • Coughing

  • Vomiting 

  • Nausea 

Some of the scrub typhus symptoms include 

  • Mental impairment or confusion 

  • Formation of a dark-colored scab on the specific area of the bite 

  • Swelling in the lymph nodes 

What are the Causes of Typhus Fever? 

Some of the insects and parasites are responsible for the spreading of the epidemic and the murine typhus disease. These parasites or insects tend to bite people and hence end up leaving the bacteria on the skin which can cause the disease. 

When an individual scratches the surface where the bug bit them, the infection can be spread due to the bite wound being opened due to scratching of the surface. This allows the typhus bacteria to go into the bloodstream. 

In the case of scrub typhus, the insect or mite that bites you will leave the typhus bacteria into your body. Even if the wound is not scratched, it can cause the disease. 

Diagnosis of Typhus Fever

When someone starts seeing the symptoms of scrub typhus, they need to consult with the doctor immediately. In case the doctor has doubts that the patient might have typhus, they will be asked to get a blood test done. This is in order to check the presence of typhus bacteria. This is done if the patient has been to visit any place that has the onset of the disease. Sometimes, it can take more than a few weeks for the test results to arrive. Hence, the doctor will recommend that they start the treatment with antibiotics in order to ensure proper safety.


What is the Treatment for Typhus?

Whether the person requires scrub typhus treatment, or epidemic and murine typhus treatment, the antibiotic doxycycline is used in the first step of the treatment process. Just a single dose of the disease has been proven to be extremely effective against the bacteria that causes epidemic typhus. Apart from that, the medicine also has an effect on the other strains. 

After the scrub typhus insect bites the person and they start showing the symptoms, it is the right time to start the antibiotic treatment. This can help in suppressing the actions of the bacteria and make way for proper diagnosis and treatment. 


Typhus is a disease that is caused due to the presence of the bacteria known as orientia or rickettsia. Although mostly eliminated, the typhus disease can still occur in certain individuals who are bitten by the infected insects. Hence, it is important to ensure that proper hygiene and safety measures are taken to prevent the spreading of the disease any further.

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FAQs on Typhus

1. What is scrub typhus?

Amongst the three different types of typhus diseases, scrub typhus is the one that spreads the most. This is also known as one of the most easily spreadable variations of typhus fever. If an individual is bitten by the infected chiggers (more commonly known as mites), there is a high chance that they will develop the disease and see the symptoms within the first 10 days of getting bitten. This disease is most common in the regions of India, China, Australia, and Japan. The symptoms are easily recognizable and might cause vomiting tendencies and nausea in the person. There are some other signs such as blackening of the area where the bite occurred, mental impairment, and swollen lymph nodes.

2. How can scrub typhus be diagnosed?

The process of diagnosing the scrub typhus in a person begins after they start seeing the common symptoms that can be associated with this type of disease. Firstly, the doctor will order a blood test to be taken of the patient so that it can be surely determined whether they have scrub typhus or not. Since these blood tests take a lot of time, the doctor will ask the patient to start with antibiotics. One of the main reasons why the scrub typhus test is important is that it helps in deciding accurately whether the person has scrub typhus or not. If the person is found to have scrub typhus, a dose of antibiotics can help in the process of treatment.