DSHS News Release: DSHS Issues Alert as Flea-borne Typhus Activity in Texas Increases

DSHS Issues Alert as Flea-borne Typhus Activity in Texas Increases

An increase this year in the number of cases of flea-borne typhus across multiple areas of the state is prompting the Texas Department of State Health Services to remind people to take precautions to prevent contracting the disease. A health alert issued today asks providers to consider a diagnosis of flea-borne typhus for people with fever and at least one other symptom of the disease. Typhus cases normally peak in Texas between May and July and again in December and January.

Flea-borne typhus, also known as murine typhus, is a bacterial infection that most commonly occurs when infected flea feces are scratched into the site of the flea bite or another break in the skin. Inhalation or mucous membrane contact with contaminated, dried flea feces are less common ways to contract the disease. Fleas are infected when they bite animals, such as rodents, opossums and cats, that can maintain and transmit the bacteria.

Early symptoms of flea-borne typhus develop within 14 days of contact with infected fleas and include headache, fever, nausea and body aches. Five or six days after the initial symptoms, a rash that starts on the trunk of the body and spreads to the arms and legs may occur. People should consult with a health care provider as soon as possible to be appropriately tested and treated if they have symptoms of the disease. Flea-borne typhus is easily treated with certain antibiotics, and people will not get it again after they recover.

The best precautions to guard against contracting flea-borne typhus are:

  • Keep yards clean so that rodents, opossums and stray cats cannot live there by removing any brush or trash, keeping the grass mowed and keeping firewood off the ground.
  • Do not leave pet food out at night as this attracts other animals.
  • Prevent rodents from living in houses.
  • Treat for fleas with a commercial flea control product before beginning rodent control in houses or yards. Fleas will search for new hosts when rodents die.
  • Control the fleas on pets regularly. Ask a veterinarian about flea control products that are safe to use on pets.
  • Wear gloves and insect repellent when handling sick or dead animals.
  • Use insect repellant when hunting, camping or engaging in any other outdoor activities

For more information, read the health alert at: http://www.dshs.texas.gov/news/releases/2017/HealthAlert-11302017.aspx

Disaster Assistance in the Wake of Harvey

For information on the Texas Disaster Declaration and more, visit www.fema.gov. Residents and businesses in declared counties who sustained disaster related damage due to Hurricane Harvey may apply for assistance by registering online at www.DisasterAssistance.gov.

Registering online is the quickest way to register for FEMA assistance. If you do not have access to the internet you may register by calling 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or 1-800-462-7585. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. seven days a week until further notice. You may also use the FEMA mobile app.

For help with insurance questions and recovery resources, visit Texas Department of Insurance’s Help After Harvey website.


To file a flood insurance claim under the NFIP, contact your insurance agent immediately. You can also call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) – select option 2 – to learn more about your policy, and be directed to the appropriate claims resource.

For more on the claims filing process, see the Texas Department of Insurance –www.tdi.texas.gov/takefive/filing-home-claim


The U.S. Small Business Administration is offering assistance. Low-interest federal disaster loans are available to Texas businesses and residents as a result of President Trump’s major disaster declaration. Applicants may apply online at www.disasterloan.sba.gov/ela or call (800) 659-2955.


To volunteer with high water vehicles or boats:
Call 713-881-3100 and ask for a Fire Marshal

Medical personnel can contact Remote Area Medical (RAM) to help with rescue efforts.
Contact RAM at volunteers@ramusa.org or 865-579-1530.

Anyone wanting to be paid for their services:
http://www.fema.gov/about-industry-liaison-program or Google “FEMA Industry”

For contractors looking for work, see the State of Texas purchasing and contracting office:
512-463-3034, option 1.

Independent drivers/haulers:
Coyote Broker
877-6-COYOTE 877-626-9683

Group drivers/haulers:
1-844-GSA-4111 (1-844-472-4111)

Tip of the Week: Starting September 1, 2017, texting and driving in Texas is illegal statewide

Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 62 into law.  Under the new law, texting while driving within the state of Texas will be punishable by a fine up to $99 for first-time offenders and $200 for repeat offenders.

The state law covers texting only and prohibits the use of hand-held phones to “read, write or send an electronic message” while driving.

The new law also states that if an accident caused by texting and driving results in the death or serious bodily injury of another person, they can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed $4,000 and confinement in jail for a term not to exceed one year.

Heatstroke Safety Tips – Everything you need to know to keep your kids safe from heatstroke

This week’s heat index is over 100 degrees, so we want to provide parents with another reminder about the dangers of heatstroke. Babies and young children can sometimes sleep so peacefully that we forget they are even there. It can also be tempting to leave a baby alone in a car while we quickly run into the store. The problem is that leaving a child alone in a car can lead to serious injury or death from heatstroke. Young children are particularly at risk, as their body can heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s. These tragedies are completely preventable. Here’s how we can all work together to keep kids safe from heatstroke.

Reduce the number of deaths from heatstroke by remembering to ACT:

A – Avoid heatstroke-related injury and death by never leaving your child alone in a car, not even for a minute. And make sure to keep your car locked when you’re not in it so kids don’t get in the car on their own.

C – Create reminders by putting something in the back of your car next to your child such as a briefcase, a purse or a cell phone that is needed at your final destination. This is especially important if you’re not following your normal routine.

T – Take action. If you see a child alone in a car, call 911. Emergency personnel want you to call. They are trained to respond to these situations. One call could save a life.

Heatstroke is the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children. On average, every 10 days a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle. For more information, visit safekids.org.