Photo: Jerry Baker, Freelance
Typhus fever, a disease sustained by fleas once thought to be extinct, is building its head in Galveston County, County Health Officers
The Galveston County Health said District reported Monday that 18 cases of typhus were reported so far in 2018, of 17 for the entire year of 2017. The disease has recovered in other parts of Texas over the last decade.
"We believe we are seeing an increase in reported cases because doctors now know what symptoms they are looking for, so they test more and we see these results," said Ashley Tompkins, spokeswoman for the health community.
Typhoid symptoms, which include fever, headache, muscle aches, anorexia, skin rash, nausea and vomiting, are often confused with a number of viral complaints. Symptoms usually occur about 7 to 14 days after exposure to the virus.
Murine typhus is a fleas-borne disease that today is mainly borne by opossums and other backyard mammals and then transmits them to cats and dogs indoors. Historically, typhoid was carried by rats before aggressive use of DDT, a pesticide, largely eliminated the problem in most US areas. The use of DDT has since been banned.
The disease is often mild but, if left untreated, a serious illness can cause damage to one or more organs, including the liver, kidneys, heart, lungs and brain.
The Galveston County Health District recommends protecting pets with a flea treatment from a veterinarian and treating the front and backyards to keep out fleas. The health district also said that no food should be provided for stray animals, as these animals could be infected with the virus, as well as rodents that could carry fleas.
"Remove every brush, every overloaded firewood, every garbage that is" You can do to prevent this, "said Tompkins.
Nick Powell covers Galveston County for the chronicle him on Twitter and send him tips to email@example.com