Clinical, laboratory, and epidemiologic features of murine typhus in 97 Texas children

Sarah F. Whiteford, Jeffery P. Taylor, J. Stephen Dumler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To document the clinical, laboratory and epidemiologic characteristics of pediatric patients with murine typhus. Design: Pediatric patients were diagnosed using serologic testing, and clinical, laboratory, and epidemiologic data were retrospectively reviewed. Setting: Of 97 patients, 77 (79%) were identified and treated as inpatients and 20 (21%) were treated as outpatients; most resided in south Texas. Patients: Between 1979 and 1996, medical records and patient-physician interviews were available for 97 patients aged 16 years and younger with murine typhus. Main Outcome Measures: The frequency of clinical symptoms and signs, abnormal laboratory findings, epidemiologic findings, and measures of disease severity were determined. Results: The clinical triad of fever, headache, and rash occurred in only 43 (49%) of 87 pediatric patients throughout the illness. Musculoskeletal symptoms were experienced by 43% of patients, whereas gastrointestinal tract symptoms (nausea, vomiting, anorexia, and diarrhea) occurred in 77%. Systemic involvement was evident by the frequent occurrence of abnormal laboratory findings referable to multiple organ systems, including the liver, kidney, blood, and central nervous system. Conclusions: Pediatric infection by Rickettsia typhi usually causes mild to moderate systemic illness. In children, the median duration of illness was 12 days (range, 5-29 days), but severe complications were rare. Length of illness was significantly related to the initial diagnosis, whereas the interval to defervescence was related to therapy with a tetracycline or chloramphenicol. Early recognition and treatment is important to prevent prolonged morbidity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-400
Number of pages5
JournalArchives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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