Typhus is caused by the rickettsial bacteria. Fleas, ticks, lice, and mites who are themselves infected with the bacteria transmit the disease to other animals and humans. The strain of typhus depends on the arthropod that carries it. Though not commonly a problem in developed nations, typhus does occur in developing regions and has been responsible for widespread deaths during periods of war and upheaval.
Left untreated, typhus can prove deadly. Risk factors for contracting typhus include traveling abroad or in regions where typhus has recently occurred. Living in a crowded environment may also raise one's risk of contracting the illness. While the spread of typhus is different than the cold or flu, it is easy to contract it in areas where there are infected arthropods.
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