Outbreak News Today

Typhus increase prompts Texas health alert

An increase this year in the number of cases of flea-borne typhus across multiple areas of the state is prompting the Texas Department of State Health Services to remind people to take precautions to prevent contracting the disease. A health alert issued today asks providers to consider a diagnosis of flea-borne typhus for people with fever and at least one other symptom of the disease. Typhus cases normally peak in Texas between May and July and again in December and January.

Texas map
Image/Urban

Flea-borne typhus, also known as murine typhus, is a bacterial infection (Rickettsia typhi) that most commonly occurs when infected flea feces are scratched into the site of the flea bite or another break in the skin. Inhalation or mucous membrane contact with contaminated, dried flea feces are less common ways to contract the disease. Fleas are infected when they bite animals, such as rodents, opossums and cats, that can maintain and transmit the bacteria.

Happiness in a Box! Try now for a limited time!

Early symptoms of flea-borne typhus develop within 14 days of contact with infected fleas and include headache, fever, nausea and body aches. Five or six days after the initial symptoms, a rash that starts on the trunk of the body and spreads to the arms and legs may occur. People should consult with a health care provider as soon as possible to be appropriately tested and treated if they have symptoms of the disease. Flea-borne typhus is easily treated with certain antibiotics, and people will not get it again after they recover.

The best precautions to guard against contracting flea-borne typhus are:

Related: