Typhoid: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatments
If typhoid is caught early, it can be successfully treated with antibiotics; if it is not treated, typhoid can be fatal.
What is typhoid?
Typhoid is an infection caused by Salmonella typhimurium bacteria that is spread from human to human.
Typhoid is an infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhimurium. The bacterium lives in the intestines and bloodstream of humans. It is spread between individuals by direct contact with the feces of an infected person.
No animals carry this disease, so transmission is always human to human.
If untreated, around 1 in 4 cases of typhoid end in death. If treatment is given, less than 4 in 100 cases are fatal.
S.typhi enters through the mouth and spends 1-3 weeks in the intestine
Symptoms of typhoid
Symptoms normally begin 6-30 days after exposure to the bacteria. The two major symptoms of typhoid are fever and rash. Typhoid fever is particularly high, gradually increasing over several days up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
The rash, which does not affect every patient, consists of rose-colored spots, particularly on the neck and abdomen.
Other symptoms can include weakness, abdominal pain, constipation, and headaches; rarely, symptoms might include confusion, diarrhea, and vomiting (but not normally severe).
In serious, untreated cases, the bowel can become perforated; this can lead to peritonitis (an infection of the tissue that lines the inside of the abdomen), which can be very serious indeed
How to avoid typhoid
Countries with less access to clean water and washing facilities typically have a higher number of typhoid cases.
People traveling in Africa, South America, and Asia (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:
- Drink bottled water (preferably carbonated)
- If bottled water cannot be sourced, ensure water is heated on a rolling boil for at least one minute before consuming
- Be wary of eating anything that has been handled by someone else
- Avoid eating at street food stands, and only eat food that is still piping hot
- Do not have ice in drinks
- Avoid raw fruit and vegetables and peel fruit yourself (do not eat the peel)
If traveling to an area where typhoid is prevalent, vaccination is recommended.
Before traveling to a high-risk area, getting vaccinated against typhoid fever is recommended. This can be achieved by injection:
- Shot – inactivated vaccine, administered 2 weeks before travel.
Note: 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.
There may be side effects to the vaccine:
- Shot: fever (1 in 100 cases)
- Shot: headache (1 in 30 cases)
- Shot: redness or swelling at the site of injection (1 in 15 cases)
Even when the symptoms of typhoid have passed, it is still possible to be carrying the bacteria. As a result, it is difficult to entirely stamp out the disease because carriers whose symptoms have finished may stop showing caution when washing food or interacting with others.
Although there are two types of typhoid vaccine available, 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.
This article contains general advice only and is not a substitute for medical advice. Always seek a professional health care opinion