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Acute Communicable Disease Control

    

Acute Communicable Disease Control


Contact Information
County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Acute Communicable Disease Control
313 N. Figueroa Street, Room 212
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 240-7941
Fax: (213) 482-4856
E-Mail:acdc2@ph.lacounty.gov
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Acute Communicable Disease Control
Murine (Endemic) Typhus

Typhus refers to a group of infectious diseases that are caused by rickettsial organisms and result in an acute febrile illness; arthropod vectors transmit the etiologic agents to humans. The principle diseases of this group are epidemic (or louse-borne) typhus, murine (or endemic) typhus, and scrub typhus. Murine typhus is the only one of these diseases naturally occurring in LAC and is caused by two bacteria Rickettsia typhi and R. felis; both are transmitted through the bite or contact with feces of an infected flea. Reservoir animals are predominantly rats and opossums that live in areas with heavy foliage. In LAC, most reported cases of typhus occur in residents of the foothills of central LAC. Symptoms include fever, severe headache, chills, and myalgia. A fine, macular rash may appear three to five days after onset. Occasionally, complications such as pneumonia or hepatitis may occur. Fatalities are uncommon, occurring in less than 1% of cases. The disease is typically mild in young children. Typhus infection is not vaccine preventable, but can be treated with antibiotics.


How do you get it?

    People get it after being exposed to fleas that are infected with a rickettsial organism. The flea lives on small mammals that are infected with the organism. When the flea bites the animal it swallows the bacteria. The next time it bites a person, it will infect the person with the bacteria.

How long does it take to get murine typhus after I've been exposed to an infected flea?

    It takes 1 to 2 weeks to show symptoms, usually about 12 days. Sometimes people donít remember that theyíve been exposed to fleas.

How can I keep from getting murine typhus?

    Make sure your cats and dogs are free of fleas. Do not leave food out for wild (feral) cats to eat. They carry fleas. Also, food left out can attract other wild animals such as opossums and rats that carry fleas. Avoid any interaction with wild cats. Remember, you donít need to touch the cat to be exposed to a flea. They can jump from the cat to you.

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