Typhoid fever

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi.

Typhoid fever is still common in the developing world and affects approximately 21 million people each year globally.

TRANSMISSION

The Bacterium Salmonella typhi lives in humans.  Persons with Typhoid Fever carry it in their bloodstream and intestinal tract.  In addition a small number of people called carriers, recover from the disease but continue to carry the bacteria.  Both ill persons and carriers shed the bacterium in their faeces.

Infection with typhoid fever occurs via ingestion of food or beverages that have been contaminated.  This can happen when S. typhi gets into the water used for drinking or washing food.  Typhoid Fever is more common in areas of the world where hand-washing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage.

HIGH-RISK AREAS

Typhoid fever is common in the developing world, e.g. Asia, Africa and Latin America.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS

Person with Typhoid Fever usually have a sustained fever as high as 39oC to 40oC.  They may feel weak, have stomach pains, tenderness, headache or loss of appetite.  In some cases, patients may have a rash of flat rose-coloured spots.

Constipation and Diarrhoea commonly occur in children.

ABOUT PREVENTING TYPHOID FEVER

There are two basic actions that can be taken to prevent Typhoid Fever.

      AVOIDING RISKY FOODS – “BOIL IT, COOK IT, PEEL IT OR FORGET IT.”

·         If you drink water, buy it bottled or bring it to a boiling boil for 1 minute before you drink it.

·         Ask for drinks without ice unless the ice is made from bottled or boiled water.  Aviod ice that may have been made with contaminated water.

·         Eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and that are still hot and steaming.

·         Avoid raw vegetable and fruits that cannot be peeled.  Vegetable like lettuce are easily contaminated and are very hard to wash well.

·         When you eat raw fruit or vegetables that can be peeled, peel them yourself.

·         Avoid foods and beverages from street vendors.

     

      GETTING VACCINATED

If you are travelling to a country where Typhoid Fever is common, you should consider being vaccinated against Typhoid.  Visit a travel clinic for more information.