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Murine Typhus in the USA (Texas)

04 Dec 2017

The Texas Department of State Health Services Link reports increased numbers of cases murine typhus in 2017 with the total expected to exceed 400 cases.

In Texas, murine typhus is usually reported from the Gulf Coast (Nueces County), and Central Texas (Travis and Bexar counties). However, in 2017, increased typhus activity has been reported in the Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston areas. Most typhus cases occur between May, July, December and January. 

Advice for Travellers

Murine typhus (flea-borne typhus) results from infection with the Rickettsia typhi. The infection is spread to people by contact with infected fleas, when flea faeces are rubbed into minor skin cuts or abrasions. Fleas living on rodents are most commonly involved in transmitting murine typhus in tropical and subtropical areas of the world. Fleas living on cats and opossums may be involved in transmission in the USA.

Symptoms of murine typhus include rash, fever, cough, nausea, vomiting and muscle pain. Most people will recover well but the disease can result in severe illness and death.

  • As murine typhus is spread by fleas, travellers should practice good insect bite avoidance.

  • Close contact with sick or dead animals should be avoided.
  • Camping and other rural activities may increase risk of exposure to infection. Rodents and other animals should be kept away from all human habitation, including campsites.
  • There is no vaccine against murine typhus, but the infection can be treated with doxycycline, with better outcomes following early diagnosis and treatment.