Epidemic Typhus in Southwestern Arabia

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Throughout this paper “typhus” is to be taken as meaning epidemic, louse-borne or “classical” typhus.

This disease is known to prefer temperate climates, and Arabia is notoriously hot. Typhus most frequently occurs where people are crowded together, and Arabia is sparsely populated.

Together these statements might lead us, to assume that typhus does not occur in Arabia, and a glance at existing maps of typhus distribution in the world will show the whole of Arabia as a blank.

So far as I know, the outbreak here described from Yemen is the first to be recorded from Arabia proper. The countries bordering upon Northern Arabia, especially Egypt and Iraq, are old typhus foci, but the nearest focus to El Yemen, the Arabic Kingdom now discussed, is Ethiopia, and it may well be that it is from Ethiopia that typhus came to Yemen (Fig. 1)

Author Notes

Department of Public Health and Social Medicine, University of Edinburgh, Scotland.