What is it?
Typhoid fever is an infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi which is found in contaminated food and water
What are the symptoms?
Persistent fever as high as 40°C (104° F) headache, confusion, dizziness, dry cough, loss of appetite and either constipation or diarrhea
Some people also develop a rash of flat, rose-colored spots on their chest and back
If typhoid is untreated, symptoms get progressively worse for 2 weeks
Other complications may include elevated respiration, slowing heartbeat, severe delirium, abdominal swelling and internal bleeding
Typhoid that is not treated can lead to inflammation of internal organs including the heart, spleen and liver, and it can be fatal
Some people who are infected with typhoid do not develop symptoms
Up to 5% of people who recover from typhoid become healthy carriers who are capable of infecting other people
How can I contract typhoid?
You can get typhoid by eating foods or drinking beverages that have been handled by someone who is infected with typhoid
You can also contract it by eating produce that has been fertilized with human waste or drinking or preparing food with contaminated water
Where can I contract it?
High-risk regions include
South Asia as well as developing countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the Middle East
Typhoid fever is more common in parts of the developing world where sewage may not be disposed of safely and basic hygiene such as hand washing may not be practiced
What vaccines are available?
Injectable Typhim Vi (R) and oral Vivotif (R) vaccines
How many shots will I need?
The injectable vaccination is given in a single shot
The oral vaccine is given in 4 doses
Will I need a booster?
If you have continuing exposure to typhoid you should have an injectable booster every 2 years or an oral vaccine booster every 5 years
How can I prevent typhoid?
Drink bottled water and fluids
Boil water, use filters or water purification drops
Safe food and water precautions and frequent hand washing are important
The rule of thumb is “boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it!”
What is the treatment for it?
Typhoid is treated with rehydration
Antibiotics are sometimes used
Treatment with antibiotics is not always effective and can cause complications
Hospital admission is sometimes required
Typhoid can be fatal without the right treatment which is based on individual circumstances