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Typhus

Category: Illness or disabilities

Type

Involuntary

Introduction and description

Typhus is any of several similar diseases caused by Rickettsia bacteria and carried by lice. The name comes from the Greek typhos (τῦφος) meaning smoky or hazy, describing the state of mind of those affected with typhus. The causative organism Rickettsia is an obligate parasite bacterium that cannot survive for long outside living cells. Typhus should not be confused with typhoid fever. While "typhoid" means "typhus-like", the diseases are distinct and are caused by different species of bacteria.

And typhus has caused all sorts of spiritual experiences.

Some history

The first reliable description of the disease appears during the Spanish siege of Moorish Granada in 1489. These accounts include descriptions of fever and red spots over arms, back, and chest, progressing to delirium, gangrenous sores, and the stink of rotting flesh. During the siege, the Spaniards lost 3,000 men to enemy action, but an additional 17,000 died of typhus.

Typhus was also common in prisons, where it was known as 'gaol fever' and often occurred when prisoners were frequently huddled together in dark, filthy rooms where lice spread easily.

A major epidemic occurred in Ireland between 1816 and 1819, during the famine caused by a world-wide reduction in temperature known as the Year Without a Summer. An estimated 100,000 Irish perished.

During World War I, the disease ravaged the armies of the Eastern Front, with over 150,000 dying in Serbia alone. In 1922, the typhus epidemic reached its peak, with some 25-30 million cases in Russia and 4 million cases in Poland. In Russia, during the civil war between the White and Red armies, typhus killed three million people.

   

Symptoms

  • Chills
  • Bad cough
  • Delirium
  • High fever (40 °C or 104 °F)
  • Pain - Joint pain, back pain, muscle pain, abdominal pain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Rashes
  • Photophobia (sensitivity to light)
  • Severe headaches
  • Nausea and Vomiting

Treatment

Without treatment, death may occur in 10 – 60 percent of patients with epidemic typhus. There are four ways in which typhus is handled, two involving prevention and two treating the cause

Prevention

  • The most effective way to prevent typhus is to avoid contact with lice.
  • These days there are also vaccines

Cause

  • Heat – heat can destroy both bacteria and lice, as such this has been used as a simple measure. There is a useful observation about the use of heat.
  • Antibiotics

How it works

A combination of symptoms could conspire to produce the experience

see also Bacterial infection

Related observations