Murine typhus also called flea-borne or endemic typhus is an illness contracted from infected fleas. According to William Burgin, Jr. M.D., Local Health Authority, “Rats and their fleas are the natural reservoirs (and animals that both maintain and transmit the disease organism) for murine typhus.” In a March 2014 press release, Burgin urged residents to learn the facts about murine typhus. Feral cats and opossums also can be vehicles for fleas that carry typhus. This does not mean that the cat or opossum is unhealthy or has the disease itself; only that the fleas riding on the animal may have typhus.
Nearly every reliable expert or source in the field of pest and disease control recommends the following preventative measures to combat murine typhus, rather than trapping:
- Clean your yard so that rodents, opossums, and stray cats cannot live there.
- Remove any brush or trash, keep the grass mowed, and keep firewood off the ground.
- Do not leave pet food out at night as this attracts other animals.
- Prevent rodents from living in your house.
- Treat for fleas before you begin rodent control in your house or yard. Otherwise, when the rodents die, the fleas will search for new hosts, possibly you and your family. There are several commercial flea control products on the market. Pick one and follow the label instructions.
- If you own pets, control the fleas on them regularly. If they come in contact with infected fleas, they could bring them home to you. Ask a veterinarian about flea control products that are safe to use on your pets.