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Brill's disease

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An infectious rickettsial disease transmitted by the human louse or a flea and characterized by fever, a transient rash, and falling blood pressure. It is usually associated with poor personal hygiene. Caused by Rickettsia prowazekii, which is present in the spinal marrow of patients recovering after endemic fever or murine typhus - which are other names for this condition. According to Zinsser, rickettsiae remain viable in the body of the host and recrudescence can occur years after the initial illness. Late recidivating, in average after 10-20 years. It occurs in remote areas of countries in north, central and southern Africa, Mexico, central and southern America, middle and western areas of Asia. The incubation period is 10 - 14 days.

The conjoint eponym Brill-Zinsser disease is now also commonly used.


  • N. E. Brill:
    acute infectious disease of unknown origin. A clinical study based on 221 cases.
    American Journal of the Medical Sciences, Thorofare, N.J., 1910, n.s. 139: 484-502.
  • H. Zinsser:
    Varieties of typhus virus and the epidemiology of the American form of European typhus fever (Brill’s disease).
    American Journal of Hygiene, 1934, 20: 513-532. Rats, lice and history: being a study in biography, which, after 12 preliminary chapters indispensable for the preparation of the lay reader, deals with the life history of typhys fever.
    Boston Atlantic Monthly Press, 1935.
    32: Boston, Little, Brown & Co., 1935.

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