Three Fleaborne Typhus-Associated Deaths Reported in 2022

Deaths all occurred in patients with comorbidities that may have put them at increased risk for severe disease
Rickettsia typhi
Rickettsia typhi

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MONDAY, Aug. 7, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Three cases of fleaborne typhus-associated deaths were reported during 2022, according to research published in the Aug. 4 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Jemma Alarcón, M.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues describe the clinical presentation, illness course, and methods used to diagnose fleaborne typhus in three fleaborne typhus-associated deaths.

The researchers noted an increase in fleaborne typhus cases in Los Angeles County, from 31 in 2010 to 171 in 2022. In the three cases of fleaborne typhus-associated deaths that occurred during June to October 2022, severe fleaborne typhus manifestations included hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, myocarditis, and septic shock with disseminated intravascular coagulation. All three patients had comorbidities that might have put them at increased risk for severe disease.

"Because Rickettsia typhi testing during early illness might result in nondetectable or low antibody titers, and waiting for convalescent titers inherently delays confirmation of diagnosis, health care providers should initiate treatment with doxycycline as soon as fleaborne typhus is suspected," the authors write.

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