12 Facts about Typhus
1. The word typhus comes from the Greek meaning smoky or lazy - referring to the delirium that is a common symptom.
2. Typhus contributed to the death of Anne Frank.
3. Epidemics of typhus are caused by body lice (not head lice) bites or exposure to their feces.
4. A louse bite is itchy and then the infected feces is rubbed into the wound.
5. Typhus thrives in overcrowded and unsanitory living conditions.
6. Lice get the typhus bacteria from rodents like mice and rats.
7. Incubation period is 7 days.
8. Begins with a severe headache, then sudden high fever, chills and delirium.
9. On the fifth day a rash appears.
10. Sensitivity to light is common.
11. Mortality rate is 10 - 60 per cent.
12. Typhus has caused massive deaths throughout history (every time there was a war or a natural disaster where people were crowded together) - until a vaccination was successfully produced in 1943 and the invention of DDT.
My grandmother died of typhus is a transition camp near Yaya which is near Tomsk, Siberia. She was a young mother with four surviving children (my mother being the oldest). She was one of the many hundreds of thousands of deaths because of Stalin's vision for the Soviet Union.
I guess what bothers me most about her death is how hard it was for me to learn about it. My mother learned to ignore that part of her life (a survival technique, I suppose) and there's no grave. I wonder if the fact that the Soviets were part of the Allies has anything to do with the lack of information about these victims.