louse-borne typhus

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Related to louse-borne typhus: typhus fever, Brill's disease

ep·i·dem·ic ty·phus

typhus caused by Rickettsia prowazekii and spread by body lice; marked by high fever, mental and physical depression, and a macular and papular eruption; lasts for about 2 weeks and occurs when large crowds are brought together and personal hygiene standards are at a low ebb; recrudescences can occur.
Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary © Farlex 2012

louse-borne typhus

Classic typhus, epidemic, typhus, European typhus, jail fever
A severe acute disease with prolonged high fever up to 40ºC/104º F, intractable headache and a pink-to-red raised rash, caused by Rickettsia prowazekii Prognosis Mortality ↑ with age; over half of untreated persons > age 50 die
McGraw-Hill Concise Dictionary of Modern Medicine. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


(ti'fus) [Gr. typhos, fever]
Any of several rickettsial infections transmitted to humans by lice, fleas, or mites. The causative microbe invades the lining of blood vessels and smooth muscle cells, causing widespread vasculitis. The most common causes of typhus are Rickettsia prowazekii, R. typhi, and Orientia tsutsugamushi. R. prowazekii causes the epidemic typhus found in crowded conditions with poor sanitation, e.g., refugee camps.


The disease may be mild, marked only by a flat rash that spreads out from the trunk and petechiae or by flulike symptoms. In more severe cases, patients have fever, skin necrosis, and gangrene on the tips of the fingers, toes, earlobes, and penis as a result of thrombus formation in blood vessels; focal inflammation and thrombosis in organs throughout the body, including the brain, produce organ-specific signs. Rickettsial infections are diagnosed by identifying the organism through immunofluorescent staining.


Typhus is treated with doxycycline for 7 days.


Bronchopneumonia occurs more frequently than lobar pneumonia. Hypostatic congestion of the lungs, nephritis, and parotid abscess also may occur.


The prognosis is variable. Mortality may be quite high in epidemic typhus and almost nonexistent in murine typhus. Broad-spectrum antibiotics are life-saving if given early enough.

endemic typhus

Murine typhus.

epidemic typhus

An infectious disease caused by Rickettsia prowazekii and transmitted by the human body louse (Pediculus humanus corporis).

flea-borne typhus

Murine typhus.

louse-borne typhus

Rickettsia prowazekii.

Mexican typhus

A louse-borne epidemic typhus present in certain portions of Mexico.

mite-borne typhus

Scrub typhus.

murine typhus

A disease caused by Rickettsia typhi and occurring in nature as a mild infection of rats and transmitted from rat to rat by the rat-louse or flea. Humans may acquire it by being bitten by infected rat fleas or ingesting food contaminated by rat urine or flea feces.
Synonym: endemic typhus; flea-borne typhus

Queensland tick typhus

Abbreviation: QTT
A febrile illness causing a spotted fever and transmitted to humans by the bite of Ixodes ticks infected with Rickettsia australis. The disease is found principally in eastern coastal Australia and is similar to Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in the U.S.

recrudescent typhus

The recurrence of epidemic typhus after the initial attack.

scrub typhus

An acute febrile illness, occasionally complicated by pneumonia, meningoencephalitis, respiratory distress syndrome, or septic shock caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi. Generally limited to Asian and Pacific nations, the disease is transmitted to humans by the bites of infected mites and chiggers. It can be treated with tetracyclines or azithromycin. The mortality rate in untreated patients is about 1% to 4%.
Synonym: mite-borne typhus; tsutsugamushi disease
Medical Dictionary, © 2009 Farlex and Partners
References in periodicals archive ?
Frequently referred to as epidemic typhus or louse-borne typhus, this disease can cause large epidemics when conditions are favorable for person-to-person spread of body lice (Pediculus humanus humanus).
Inhalation and transdermal or mucous membrane inoculation of infected louse feces are well-established routes of pathogen transmission during epidemics of human louse-borne typhus. The mechanism by which R.
(16.) A large outbreak of epidemic louse-borne typhus in Burundi.