Outbreak of Epidemic Typhus in the Northern Region of Saudi Arabia

R. M. Matossian Department of Bacteriology and Virology, Medical School, American University of Beirut, Tapline Base Hospital, Badanah, Beirut, Lebanon

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J. Thaddeus Department of Bacteriology and Virology, Medical School, American University of Beirut, Tapline Base Hospital, Badanah, Beirut, Lebanon

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G. A. Garabedian Department of Bacteriology and Virology, Medical School, American University of Beirut, Tapline Base Hospital, Badanah, Beirut, Lebanon

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Summary

An outbreak of epidemic typhus appeared in the Northern region of Saudi Arabia during the period extending from January to June 1961. It involved a considerable number of the native population and some members of the staff at the Badanah Hospital.

The clinical and the laboratory findings in patients during this outbreak were essentially similar to those reported in other outbreaks. Of 44 patients hospitalized at Badanah Base Hospital, 3 developed jaundice and 2 died. The cause of one of these deaths was believed to be myocardial infarction. The cause of death of the second patient was not determined. No autopsies were performed on either of these patients.

Administration of Terramycin® (Pfizer), Chloromycetin® (Parke-Davis and Co.) singly or in combination, resulted in a drop of temperature within 36 to 72 hours in most of the cases regardless of the day of illness when such treatment was started. Addition of steroids to antibiotics did not alter appreciably the results of treatment.

Single or matched blood samples from 43 patients during acute illness and/or convalescence, were tested for the presence of typhus rickettsial antibodies by the employment of the CF, HA and Weil-Felix tests. Significant antibody titers, in 42 of 43 patients, were demonstrated by any one of these tests. Further work, using specific murine and epidemic typhus antigens, showed the epidemic nature of the disease.

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