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Typhus! (Part One)!
By Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado   


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An epidemic of typhus strikes a community, leaving its residents fearing for their very lives.

I.

There is a silent killer amongst us, and it's stalking us, looking for any potential victims it can devour.

It all started last week.  Some rats were found in Old Man Stedman's barn; because of this, some people have sickened with a terrible disease called typhus.  Typhus is serious; if it isn't dealt with, it can quickly kill.  Worst of all, it is the kind that spreads:  going from one person to another.

Doctors are advising us to stay home, to stay away from other, in case they come down with typhus.  If someone does get it, we are to stay away from that person, or, if we have been exposed to it, help that person as best as we can before help arrives, and pray we don't get it next.

So far, nobody in my immediate family (husband or my four kids) have come down with it.  Don't want them to either; this is why the kids are to stay inside and home from school.  No playing except indoors, even on sunny days.  Can't take any chances.

II.

Our worst fears have been realized.  My husband has taken ill, as have two of my children.  Ebeziah and our sons Quillon and Patrick have fallen ill with typhus.  They have the obvious signs of the disease:  extremely high fevers, severe chills, muscle/joint pains, severe headaches, dry, rattling cough that shakes their very bodies, delirium, a dull, red rash that's spread, sensitivity to light. 

We are waiting for the doctor now, to see if that is what they have.

I am scared, very scared!

Later:

That is exactly what my family has, meaning Ebeziah, Quillan, and Patrick.  Typhus.  They have the worst kind:  epidemic.  Apparently they were exposed to it when I wasn't looking.  They might die; there is really nothing anyone can do except try to lower their fevered bodies, give them water to drink, keep them warm, comfortable, let the disease run its course.

All I can do now is pray to God, ask Him to spare my sick family members.  It is all up to Him, and Him alone.

III.

Unfortunately, I have sad news.  My husband has died.  My boys have survived; they are, however, extremely weakened.  It is going to take weeks before they get over the full effects of the typhus fever. 

I am overtaken with grief; my main source of joy, the head of the house, is gone!  Just like that:  one minute he was here, full of love, life, and joy, and the next:  sick, then dying only days later, of a terrifying illness that few people understand.

I should be happy, knowing little Patrick and Quillan have survived; yet I can't.  My husband is dead.  DEAD!!  I don't know what I am going to do without him, or what is going to become of us, the surviving members of the family! 

I can't work because I have obligations for my children; I also have my elderly mother to take care of!  (She lost her husband only a week ago to the typhus fever.  She is beside herself in mourning as well.)

I don't know what is going to become of us, of the surviving members of our community:  the typhus is still running rampant, with no end in sight.  It seems as soon as one person gets over it, several more people die!  Oh, when is it ever going to end??  I don't think I can take too much of this fear; it's a horrible way to live!!

*To be continued.*

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

*Typhus is one of a group of diseases caused by rickettsaie. 

*Name comes from the Greek word, "typhos", which means "smoggy or hazy"; this describes the state of mind of those affected.

*Caused by an obligate parasite and cannot survive for long outside living cells.

*Typhus should NOT be confused with TYPHOID FEVER; these two diseases are NOT related!!

Symptoms of Typhus:

a.)  Murine Typhus                             b.)  Epidemic Typhus

*abdominal pain                                                *chills

*back pain                                                           *dry, hacking cough

*dull red rash that spreads                              *delirium

*extremely high fever (105-106)                      *joint pain

*hacking, dry cough                                           *low blood pressure

*severe headache                                             *red rash that spreads

*joint pains                                                          *photophobia

*nausea                                                               *severe headache

*vomiting.                                                             *severe muscle pain

                                                                               *stupor, then coma.

________________________________________________________

**Without treatment, typhus CAN be FATAL, particularly the EPIDEMIC form of the disease!!**

**PROMPT treatment with antibiotics cures nearly every patient!!

Back in the late 1800's, when this story takes place, there was really nothing that could be done except try to keep the victims comfortable and isolated from other people, particularly if the epidemic form of typhus was present!  Many people died because treatment was too late or help wasn't readily available, nothing like it is today.

Typhus is virtually unheard of in the developed world; however it still can strike without any warning in underdeveloped nations where sanitation, rat infestation, other variables are an issue.



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