Typhoid Fever

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What is typhoid fever?

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. Typhoid fever is still common in the developing countries, where it affects about 12.5 million persons each year.

How is typhoid fever spread?

Salmonella typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in the bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed Salmonella typhi in their stools.

What are the signs and symptoms of typhoid fever?

  • Persons with typhoid fever usually have a sustained fever as high as 39C to 40C.
  • They may also feel weak, or have stomach pains, headache, or loss of appetite.
  • In some cases, patients have a rash of flat, rose-colored spots.

How to avoid having typhoid fever?

Two basic actions can protect you from typhoid fever:

  • Avoid risky foods and drinks
    • When you drink water, buy it bottled or bring it to a rolling boil for 1 minute before you drink it. Bottled carbonated water is safer than uncarbonated water.
    • Ask for drinks without ice unless the ice is made from bottled or boiled water. Avoid popsicles and flavored 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 vegetables and fruits that cannot be peeled. Vegetables like lettuce are easily contaminated and are very hard to wash well.
    • When you eat raw fruit or vegetables that cannot be peeled, wash them yourself.
    • Avoid foods and beverages from street vendors. It is difficult for food to be kept clean on the street, and many travelers get sick from food bought from street vendors.
  • Get vaccinated against typhoid fever.

Excerpt from: What you need to know about typhoid fever, Aventis Pasteur