Sunday, August 12, 2007

Typhus Fever

Among the diseases I have learnt lately, the one of great relevance and occurrence (till today) is typhus. However, this disease should not be confused with typhoid, which is caused by a different kind of bacteria. Characteristics symptoms constitute high fever (obviously), and blurring of thoughts (hence the name typhus, which means hazy in Greek). Symptoms very much vary among different type of Typhus.

Typhus compromises five types namely;

  1. Epidemic Typhus.

  2. Endemic Typhus.

  3. Tsutsugamushi Fever.

  4. Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.

  5. Brill-Zinsser Disease.

The following typhi are described in the following table:

Type of Typhus

Causative Agent (Bacteria)




Epidemic (Classic Typhus)

Rickettsia prowazeki

Body Louse,

Head Louse (lesser extend). Usually borne by rats.

Fever and macular rash (spotted rash). If left untreated, maculopapular and petechial (small) rashes will appear.

Worldwide; especially during war and famine. Poverty can be a causative as hygiene is not emphasised.

Endemic (Murine)

Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia felis (Cat Flea)

Fleas; borne by rodents.

Similar to epidemic symptoms but milder. Tenderness, cerebral bleeding and if too severe, renal (kidney) faliure. Differentiated from epidemic typhus by Weill-Felix test.

Worldwide; concentrated in warm coastal area.

Tsutsugamushi Fever (Scrub Typhus)

Rickettsia tsutsugamushi

Mites (chiggers) that resides in scrubs or around nests of rodents; feeds on rodents.

Formation of papule at the bite site and later on will become ulcerated and necrotic. Myocarditis (inflammation of heart muscle) and Disseminated Intravascular Coagulation.

Asian in origin (hence the name tsutsugamushi). It receives very little attention in the west before the World War II. During the World War II, many soldiers from the US stationed in the Pacific contracted this disease, thus increasing attention to his illness.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (Tick Typhus)

Rickettsia rickettsi

Tick (ixodid ticks) which also lives in rodents.

High fever, severe headache, chills, prostration, myalgia, hepatomegaly (swelling of liver), and pneumonial symptoms.

America and Mexico. The most common reported Rickettsial illness in the States.

Brill-Zinsser Disease (Recrudescent Typhus)

Rickettsia prowazeki

Recovered patients from epidemic typhus. The bacteria might not been cleared completely from the body (especially in the lymph nodes) thus the disease relapses. Also, if the person is bitten by lice, it can get transmitted to another. Can be spread through physical contact.

Mild epidemic typhus symptoms.

Worldwide, prevalent in area once infested with epidemic typhus.

Herbal Treatment

I am not sure whether herbal treatment is as effective as orthodox medication. The bacteria is intracellular parasites; they multiply only in living cells (much like viruses). However, herbs such as Echinacea can be used to treat such bacterial infection. also a combination of other antiseptic herbs such as garlic can be useful as well. Others provide formulation including Ling Zhi (Reishi) mushroom.

Anyway, the most effective treatment is to see a physician, herbalist or orthodox medicine practitioner alike. Just to get the symptoms right.


JiNG said...

Biohealth Student from which uni? ekeke

Henri said...

I am from University of Malaya