Typhus Fever (Murine) 2004

The term typhus fever refers to three different diseases: epidemic, scrub, and murine typhus. Epidemic typhus fever is caused by Rickettsia prowazekii and is transmitted human to human by the human body louse, Pediculus humanus corporis. Scrub typhus, which occurs in Southeast Asia, is caused by Rickettsia tsutsugamushi and is transmitted to humans by certain mites who also serve as the reservoir. Murine typhus occurs in Indiana and is caused by Rickettsia typhi.

Traditionally, murine typhus has been transmitted from the natural reservoir, rats, by the rat flea. Fleas from other animals such as opossums and cats may also be involved in the transmission of typhus. Prior to eliminating and controlling rats in the United States, murine typhus was frequently reported. Now, less than 100 typhus cases are reported per year in the U.S.

There were no reported cases of typhus in Indiana in 2004, and only one reported case during the five-year period 2000-2004.