Typhus in the 21st Century.
Wednesday about 1230 EDT Hurricane Michael hit Florida. The news, and rightly so has been showing the devastation that the storm left.
On the west coast a different storm. No wind no rain no destroyed buildings. Also no news coverage past the little blurbs here and there. Since July to October 10th, in LA Country there have been 57 Typhus cases. That is worrisome. Typhus we normally see in depressed areas of the country and world. LA is not a 3rd world country.
Or is it?
As much as we would LIKE to think LA is 3rd world it is not. It has major issues but once you have seen a war torn or real 3rd world country you will immediately see my point.
Typhus is making a come back.
The CDC has been following the resurgence of it here in the US. During 2003–2013, a total of 1,762 cases were reported to the CDC. The break down of the cases is 27 in 2003 to 222 in 2013. An average of 102 cases were reported yearly during 2003–2007, which is less than half (209) of the average number reported during 2008–2013.
There are dozens of reasons why. For right now lets forget the why. And focus on the Protect.
There are 3 main forms of Typhus:
endemic (murine) typhus scrub typhus and epidemic (louse-borne) typhus
The one currently infecting California is the endemic (murine) form. It is transmitted by fleas.
A flea is seen in a file photo. (Credit: Shutterstock)
The how to protect is actually quite simple. Keep vermin out. Keep things clean. Keep your distance.
All the cases in LA county are in areas where homeless gather and live. Now before someone berates me for “picking” on the homeless. I am not. Just stating fact. Fact. Most city dwelling homeless do not have the resources to maintain sanitation. Where as the few homeless that abandon the cities have better sanitation. Fact. Vermin. Namely Rats and Mice live in close proximity to homeless camps. Why? Food. The homeless do not usually have access to the items to protect food. Homeless that live out side the cities have learned to use what is at hand to store and protect food. Fact. Homeless “dumpster dive” For both food and for items needed to survive. So do rats and mice.
During the middle ages, The Black Death decimated Europe. The cities of Europe were cities of the dead. The country side however suffered far less. But what about Texas? A friend on Facebook asked me that. She thought that Texas was sparely populated. Well the most cases this year are in Hildago Country Tx. The population is about 850,000. In my earlier statement It may be construed that I was attacking the homeless. In Texas, Typhus does NOT discriminate. As many from affluent neighborhoods as from poor get typhus. Once again How is that possible? Similar reasons as the homeless. Living in crowded conditions. Allowing vermin to “coexist” instead of eradicating them. (The “No kill traps are a prime example). Typhus does not care. Rich Poor Black White Yellow Green. It. Does. Not. Care.
The easiest defense of typhus is sanitation. Keep things clean. Keep vermin out. Dispose of waste quickly and properly.
Practice safe flea control. Pets, yards, and homes should be kept free of fleas. Oral and topical flea control medications can be used on pets to control and prevent flea problems. Consult your veterinarian for advice. When purchasing pesticides to treat yards and homes, use only materials which state ìfleasî on the label, and follow all label directions carefully. Eliminate all possible harborage. Homes should be kept in good repair to prevent rodents, opossums, and stray or feral cats from entering the structure or nesting in crawl spaces below structures. Yards should be kept clear of heavy undergrowth and accumulated debris to reduce areas where animals may nest or hide. Eliminate all food sources. Do not encourage animals to visit your yard by directly or indirectly feeding them. Open trash cans, bird feeders, fallen fruit, and pet food attract rodents and other animals. Pick up all fallen fruit and do not leave food out for pets. (http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/vet/docs/mtyphus.pdf)
- Typhus is a bacterial disease; there are two types termed endemic and epidemic.
- Typhus has a long and deadly history, especially epidemic typhus.
- Bacteria causes typhus. Rickettsia prowazekii causes epidemic typhus. Rickettsia typhi and, occasionally, R. felis cause endemic typhus and are transmitted to humans by vectors such as lice (mainly epidemic) and fleas (mainly endemic).
- Risk factors include visiting or living in areas where rats, mice, and other animals have high populations (for example, disaster areas, poverty-stricken areas, refugee camps, jails) where vectors such as fleas and lice can carry the bacteria from the animals to infect humans.
- Endemic typhus symptoms can include rash that begins on the body trunk and spreads, high fever, nausea, malaise, diarrhea, and vomiting. Epidemic typhus has similar but more severe symptoms, including bleeding into the skin, delirium, hypo-tension, and death.
- Antibiotics (for example, azithromycin, doxycycline, tetracycline or chloramphenicol) are used to treat endemic and epidemic typhus.
- The prognosis for endemic typhus is usually good to excellent, but the epidemic typhus prognosis can range from good, with early effective treatment, to poor, with the elderly often having the worst prognosis.
Antibiotics will cure Typhus. The way is quick and proper diagnosis.
Symptoms vary slightly by the type of typhus, but there are symptoms that are associated with all three types of typhus, such as:
Symptoms of epidemic typhus usually appear suddenly and include:
- severe headache
- high fever (above 102.2°F)
- rash that begins on the back or chest and spreads
- stupor and seeming out of touch with reality
- low blood pressure (hypotension)
- eye sensitivity to bright lights
- severe muscle pain
The symptoms of endemic typhus last for 10 to 12 days and are very similar to the symptoms of epidemic typhus but are usually less severe. They include:
- dry cough
- nausea and vomiting
As was mentioned above Antibiotics will cure Typhus. KEEP SOME ON HAND AT ALL TIMES. The recent changes the FDA made has made it slightly more difficult to obtain them over the counter. BUT not impossible. Your best bets are: ( In no particular order)
- Purchase “Fish” antibiotics. They are the same as human and in the same doses.
- Buy on line from an on line pharmacy
- See if your doctor will write you a prescription for “just in case” Some will some won’t
How much and how often on the antibiotics.
2 schools of thought exist. A 7 day regime versus single dose. . The standard is 200mg Doxycycline daily for 7 days. A study in 2004 showed that a single 500mg dose of Doxycycline had the same cure rate as 7x200mg doses. Another study in the same year compared a single 500mg dose of Azythromycin (Z-pack) to 7×200 mg off Doxycycline . The single Z-pack had the same cure rate, 100%
This means for preppers that may not have the option of purchasing more antibiotics have a proven method to cure typhus effectively
Alternative methods. Historically theses have not worked as well. For the main reason is that the infection was thought to be caused by spirits Humors and vapors. Not bacteria. The issue with alternative treatments is they are not always systemic. One that has shown use of colloidal silver in the past to be effective. However there are no current studies. I will say CS has shown to be effective in treating many different forms of bacterial infection. They key for effective treatment with CS is early and rapid treatment. Some have said (NOT VERIFIED AS OF YET) echinacea and Berberine containing tinctures have been effective also. I will inquire from my friend Cat Ellis of the Herbal Prepper (www.herbalprepper.com) and get her professional opinion on this.
Over all the best way to treat typhus is to prevent it. Good hygiene. Good sanitation. Preventive health care measures. Avoid crowded areas and keep vermin away.