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Doctors share tips on how you can avoid contracting typhus as Houston man recovers from infection

While rare, most cases of typhus in the U.S. occur in Texas, California and Hawaii, according to the CDC.

After sharing Michael Kohlhof's story of being diagnosed with typhus, a bacterial infection spread through fleas, we're learning there are others out there that can relate. 

"It was probably the sickest I've ever been in my life," said Julie Hoover of League City. 

Hoover said she had her own run-in with the disease two summers ago. 

"Well I work in the animal industry, but I could get it anywhere," she said. 

Memorial Hermann's infectious disease doctor Linda Yancey says there are many ways you can contract typhus.

"You get it from contact with fleas, being bitten by fleas, or exposure to flea poop," explained Dr. Yancey. "So people who are cleaning out abandoned garages or sheds that have had infected fleas in them can be at risk." 

While rare, most cases of typhus in the U.S. occur in Texas, California and Hawaii -- averaging out to roughly 300 cases a year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The symptoms are very similar to mild COVID and the flu. 

"There is a rash, but that tends to present at about day five," said Dr. Yancey. 

Doctors say the best way to protect yourself from the disease is to wear insect repellent, make sure pets are defleaed, avoid stray animals and deflea yard animals, like squirrels. 

"So if you get feline oral flea prevention medication, you can mix it up in some peanut butter, roll it in cheerios, put it out, the squirrels will eat it and they will be flea free for the next three months."

These simple steps could ultimately save your life in the long run. 

"It took about two to three months to completely recover and feel like I could go back to work," said Hoover. 

"The faster you get it identified and treated, the better the outcome," said Dr. Yancey. 

Doctors say timing is key and if caught early, it can be treated with a round of antibiotics. 

As of right now, there is no vaccine to protect you from it. 

Kohlhof had to have both of his hands amputated and parts of his feet. 

A GoFundMe account has been set up to assist him with medical costs. 

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