Non-epidemic typhus

Other Names:
Endemic flea-borne typhus
Murine typhus
Endemic typhus
Malaya typhus
New World typhus
Rat typhus
Urban typhus
Flea typhus
Flea-borne typhus
Marine typhus
Brill's disease
Brill-Zinsser disease
Recrudescent typhus
Jail fever
Ship typhus

Murine typhus, or endemic typhus, is one of the oldest recognized, most common, but least reported arthropod-transmitted zoonoses. Endemic typhus is an infection by a rickettsial organism (sometimes called a viral infection or a bacterial infection) spread by fleas that live on mice and rats. The faeces of infectious fleas contaminate a bite or skin abrasion, usually when the victim scratches or rubs a bite. The disease can also be caused by inhalation of dried faeces. Symptoms of fever, headache, muscle pain and rash occur gradually one to two weeks after contact, and they last for one to two weeks if untreated. The disease typically is mild with rapid recovery; fatalities are rare, but if untreated average 1-2 percent.


This form of typhus fever is world-wide in distribution and found wherever individuals are crowded together in unsanitary, rat-infested areas (hence its old names of jail-fever and ship typhus). Mortality is very low.

The classic reservoir and vector are the rat and rat flea, respectively; however, the role of cat fleas and opossums in maintaining this microorganism has been suggested in some areas of the United States where rats and rat fleas are absent. Although murine typhus has a worldwide distribution, it is often unrecognized, and documented cases are rarely reported, particularly in tropical countries. Recent cases of murine typhus in in patients returning to Europe from Indonesia indicate that murine typhus should be considered a possible cause of imported fever from Indonesia.

Related Problems:
Epidemic typhus fever
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 9: Industry, Innovation and InfrastructureGOAL 11: Sustainable Cities and CommunitiesGOAL 14: Life Below WaterGOAL 16: Peace and Justice Strong Institutions
Problem Type:
E: Emanations of other problems
Date of last update
04.10.2020 – 22:48 CEST