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First Typhus death reported in Travis County

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The health department is reporting the first typhus related death in Travis County.

In a second case, this month, the individual who got sick recovered. It's believed both cases are linked to wild animals, like raccoons and possums, getting into the homes of the victims. The recent cases involve people, who are identified only as young adults.

Typhus is transmitted by fleas and ticks. According to Dr. Phil Wong, with the Austin-Travis County Health and Human Services Department, only one percent of the cases can become fatal and the disease can be treated with antibiotics.

"We work with the medical community every year and try to alert them to be thinking about this if someone comes in with these symptoms because the symptoms are not real specific. But they are like high fever, headache body aches but you can have a rash, on the trunk and on the arms and legs, but not totally specific, so to get the whole physician community thinking about it and getting people being aware of if they're in the setting to potentially be exposed to fleas to do all the prevention they can," said Wong.

Prevention includes keeping yards clean and removing anything outside that can attract wild animals like food and water dishes for pets. Fleas can also be brought into homes by family pets. The use of insect repellant, that has DEET, is also recommended for individuals, who do a lot outside activities.

Typhus cases use to be isolated to South Texas. In 2008, the first cases were reported in Travis County. Last year there were more than 50.

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