Summary of Study Session 36

In Study Session 36, you have learned that:

  1. Louse-borne relapsing fever (RF) and typhus are major epidemic-prone diseases in Ethiopia. They are vector-borne febrile illnesses caused by bacteria and transmitted by the human body louse.
  2. RF and typhus are diseases of poverty and overcrowding, which are most likely to occur in refugee camps, prisons and other places where large numbers of people live in crowded conditions, with poor sanitation and lack of personal hygiene, which promote infestation with body lice.
  3. RF and typhus have similar symptoms, including high fever, headache, and joint and muscle pain. Patients with typhus often also have a persistent cough. The symptoms of RF typically occur in cycles of a few days, resolving spontaneously for a few days before the patient relapses with another episode of symptoms. Typhus symptoms tend to be sustained over time.
  4. Patients with RF or typhus should be referred immediately for antibiotic treatment in higher health institutions; both diseases are life-threatening if not treated, but respond well to the correct antibiotics.
  5. When you suspect a case of RF or typhus, you should conduct active case finding in the community to locate any similar cases; you can control the spread of an epidemic by referring all patients for early treatment, reporting cases to the District Health Office and seeking help to apply prevention measures.
  6. Regular washing of clothes, bedding and bodies, delousing using chemicals such as permethrin and DDT, and treatment with antibiotics are the major prevention and control methods during epidemics of RF or typhus.

36.4  Prevention of louse-borne relapsing fever and typhus

Self-Assessment Questions (SAQs) for Study Session 36