S: MedlinePlus – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001363.htm (last access: 25 May 2014); Healthline – https://www.healthline.com/health/typhus (last access: 3 March 2020).
N: 1. typhus (n.): acute infectious fever, usually accompanied by prostration, delirium, and small reddish spots, 1785, from medical Latin, from Greek typhos “stupor caused by fever,” literally “smoke,” from typhein “to smoke,” related to typhos “blind,” typhon “whirlwind,” from PIE *dheubh-, perhaps an extended form of root *dheu- (1) “to fly about like dust.”
2. The Greek term typhos (smoke, mist, fog) was employed by Hippocrates to define a confused state of the intellect, with a tendency to stupor (stupor attonitus); and in this sense it is aptly applied to typhus fever with its slow cerebration and drowsy stupor. Boissier de Sauvages first (in 1760) called this fever “typhus,” and the name was adopted by Cullen of Edinburgh in 1769. Previous to the time of de Sauvages typhus was known as “Pestilential” or “Putrid Fever,” or by some name suggested by the eruption, or expressive of the locality in which it appeared, as “Camp,” “Jail,” “Hospital,” or “Ship Fever” (Murchison). (Thomas Clifford, ed., “A System of Medicine,” New York, 1897).
Related: typhous (adj.).
3. Series of acute infectious diseases that appear with a sudden onset of headache, chills, fever, and general pains, proceed on the third to fifth day with a rash and toxemia (toxic substances in the blood), and terminate after two to three weeks.
4. Typhus (actually not one illness but a group of closely related diseases) is caused by different species of rickettsia bacteria that are transmitted to humans by lice, fleas, mites, or ticks. The insects are carried person to person or are brought to people by rodents, cattle, and other animals.
5. The most important form of typhus has been epidemic typhus (borne by lice). Other forms are murine, or endemic, typhus (flea-borne); scrub typhus, or tsutsugamushi disease (mite-borne); and tick-borne typhus.
6. Typhus is caused by one of two types of bacteria: Rickettsia typhi or Rickettsia prowazekii.
7. Cultural Interrelation: Like their criminal counterparts, soldiers and prisoners of war often lived for prolonged periods of time in filthy, deprived conditions. “Jail fever” quickly became known as “camp fever” as soldiers in Napoleon’s army sickened and died in the field almost as often as they did from hostile fire. Changes to camp structure and rules regarding cleanliness and hygiene helped curb the effects of typhus, but did not end them.
The Civil War was America’s deadliest war in terms of American soldiers killed, but surprisingly, typhus rarely left its mark on camps or prisoner of war prisons. Soldiers and prisoners in Northern camps did not seem to contract the disease as readily as their European cousins. Some scientists hypothesize that differences in North America’s climate or indigenous louse might account for this anomaly.
S: 1 & 2. OED – http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?allowed_in_frame=0&search=typhus&searchmode=none (last access: 5 September 2014). 3, 4 &5. DORLAND p. 1994; EncBrit – https://www.britannica.com/science/typhus (last access: 27 March 2015). 6. MedlinePlus – http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001363.htm (last access: 25 May 2014). 7. http://www.ehow.com/about_5428040_history-typhus.html (last access: 27 March 2015).