Typhoid fever is associated with fever caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria. It is rare in developed countries. However, it remains a serious health warning in the rising world, specifically for children.
Typhoid fever spreads through filthy food and water or through close interaction with someone who’s infected. Signs and symptoms usually include a high fever, headache, abdominal pain, and either constipation or diarrhea.
Most people with typhoid fever feel better within a few days of starting antibiotic treatment, although a small number of them may die of complications. Vaccines against typhoid fever are available, but they’re only partially effective. Vaccines usually are reserved for those who may be exposed to the disease or are traveling to areas where typhoid fever is common.
The symptoms of typhoid fever are:
As the infection progresses, you may lose your appetite, feel sick, and have a tummy ache and diarrhea. Some people may develop a rash.
If typhoid fever isn’t treated, the symptoms will continue to get worse over the following weeks and the risk of developing potentially fatal complications will increase.
The areas with the highest rates of typhoid fever are:
The only effective treatment for typhoid is antibiotics. The most commonly used are ciprofloxacin (for non-pregnant adults) and ceftriaxone.
Other than antibiotics, it is important to rehydrate by drinking adequate water.
In more severe cases, where the bowel has become perforated, surgery may be required.
As with a number of other bacterial diseases, there is currently concern about the growing resistance of antibiotics to S. Typhi.
This is impacting the choice of drugs available to treat typhoid. In recent years, for example, typhoid has become resistant to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and ampicillin.
Ciprofloxacin, one of the key medications for typhoid, is also experiencing similar difficulties. Some studies have found Salmonella typhimurium resistance rates to be around 35 percent.
In many developing nations, the public health goals that can help prevent and control typhoid fever — safe drinking water, improved sanitation, and adequate medical care — may be difficult to achieve. For that reason, some experts believe that vaccinating high-risk populations is the best way to control typhoid fever.
A vaccine is recommended if you live in or you’re traveling to areas where the risk of getting typhoid fever is high.
Before traveling to a high-risk area, getting vaccinated against typhoid fever is recommended.
This can be achieved by oral medication or a one-off injection:
Vaccines are not 100 percent effective and caution should still be exercised when eating and drinking.
Vaccination should not be started if the individual is currently ill or if they are under 6 years of age. Anyone with HIV should not take the live, oral dose.
The vaccine may have adverse effects. One in 100 people will experience a fever. After the oral vaccine, there may be gastrointestinal problems, nausea, and headache. However, severe side effects are rare with either vaccine.
There are two types of typhoid vaccines available, but a more powerful vaccine is still needed. The live, oral version of the vaccine is the strongest of the two. After 3 years, it still protects individuals from infection 73 percent of the time. However, this vaccine has more side effects.
The current vaccines are not always effective, and because typhoid is so prevalent in poorer countries, more research needs to be done to find better ways of preventing its spread.
Wash your hands. Frequent hand-washing in hot, soapy water is the best way to control infection. Wash before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for times when water isn’t available.
Ask for drinks without ice. Use bottled water to brush your teeth, and try not to swallow water in the shower.
If you’re recovering from typhoid fever, these measures can help keep others safe:
Even when the symptoms of typhoid have passed, it is still possible to be carrying the bacteria.
This makes it hard to stamp out the disease, because carriers whose symptoms have finished may be less careful when washing food or interacting with others.
People traveling in Africa, South America, and Asia, and India in particular, should be vigilant.
Typhoid is spread by contact and ingestion of infected human feces. This can happen through an infected water source or when handling food.
The following are some general rules to follow when traveling to help minimize the chance of typhoid infection:
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