Flea-borne Typhus on the Rise in Tarrant County

December 1, 2017 1:40 pm

We received the following alert from Tarrant County Public Health today.

In order to keep you and your family safe, please treat for fleas. Spay Neuter Network sells low-cost dog and cat flea/tick treatment in our clinics and at our mobile clinics during wellness hours with no appointment needed.  Once you’ve treated your pet, it is important to also treat your yard and home  to make sure the problem is truly under control. You can purchase yard and home treatments at most grocery and home improvement stores. 

Flea-borne Typhus Activity Increases in Tarrant County

November 30, 2017 (Tarrant County, TX) – Tarrant County Public Health (TCPH) issued a health alert today to area health care providers in response to a rise in local flea-borne typhus cases. It asks them to consider a diagnosis for people with fever and at least one other symptom of the disease.

TCPH has reported 22 cases so far this year, compared to six cases in 2016, four in 2015 and three in 2014.

Flea-borne typhus, also known as murine typhus, is a bacterial infection. It most commonly occurs when infected flea feces is scratched into the site of a flea bite or other break in the skin. Inhalation and mucous membrane contact with contaminated, dried flea feces are less common ways to contract the disease. Fleas are infected when they bite animals, such as rodents, opossums and cats. Those vectors can maintain and transmit the bacteria.

Early symptoms of flea-borne typhus develop within 14 days of contact with infected fleas. Symptoms include headache, fever, nausea and body aches. Five or six days after initial symptoms begin, a patient may experience a rash that starts on the trunk of the body and spreads to the arms and legs.

People experiencing symptoms should consult with a health care provider to be appropriately tested and treated for the disease. Flea-borne typhus is easily treated with certain antibiotics. Patients do not normally acquire it again after they recover.

TCPH encourages all residents to guard against contracting flea-borne typhus. Residents are asked to:

  • Keep yards clean and clutter-free so rodents, opossums and stray cats cannot live in the area.
  • Do not leave pet food out at night. It attracts other animals.
  • Prevent rodents from living inside a home. They carry fleas.
  • Treat pets regularly for fleas with a veterinarian-approved flea control product.
  • Use a commercial flea control product before beginning rodent control in a house or yard. Fleas will search for new hosts when rodents die.
  • Wear gloves and insect repellent when handling sick or dead animals.
  • Use insect repellent when hiking, hunting, camping or engaging in outdoor activities.”

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