What is Typhoid Fever?

Typhoid fever is an acute, life-threatening febrile illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella serotype typhi.

Who is at risk for Typhoid Fever?

In developed countries, about 70% of the cases are acquired while traveling internationally. Typhoid fever is still common in the developing world, where an estimated 16 million cases of typhoid fever and 600,000 deaths occur every year.

Typhoid fever is common in most parts of the world except in industrialized regions such as the United States, Canada, western Europe, Australia, and Japan. Therefore, if you are traveling to the developing world, you should consider taking precautions. Over the past 10 years, travelers to Asia, Africa, and Latin America have been especially at risk.

What are the signs and symptoms of typhoid fever?

Persons with typhoid fever usually have a sustained fever as high as 103° to 104° F (39° to 40° C). 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.

Typhoid fever's danger doesn't end when symptoms disappear.
Even if your symptoms seem to go away, you may still be carrying S. typhi. If so, the illness could return, or you could pass the disease to other people

What do you do if you think you have typhoid fever?

If you suspect you have typhoid fever, see a doctor immediately.

How is typhoid fever diagnosed?

The only way to know for sure if an illness is typhoid fever is to have samples of stool or blood tested for the presence of S. typhi.

How can typhoid fever be treated?

Antibiotics are used to treat the disease. Three commonly prescribed antibiotics are mpicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and ciprofloxacin. Persons given antibiotics usually begin to feel better within 2 to 3 days, and deaths rarely occur. However, persons who do not get treatment may continue to have fever for weeks or months, and as many as 20% may die from complications of the infection.

How can you prevent typhoid fever?

Two basic actions can protect you from typhoid fever:avoid risky foods and drink and get vaccinated against typhoid fever.
Watching what you eat and drink when you travel is as important as being vaccinated. This is because the vaccines are not completely effective. Three typhoid vaccines are currently available :

  • an oral live-attenuated vaccine (Vivotif Berna™ vaccine, manufactured from the Ty21a strain of Salmonella typhi (2) by the Swiss Serum and Vaccine Institute)
  • a parenteral heat-phenol-inactivated vaccine that has been widely used for many years (manufactured by Wyeth-Ayerst)
  • a capsular polysaccharide vaccine (ViCPS) for parenteral use (Typhim Vi, manufactured by Pasteur Merieux).

All three vaccines have been shown to protect 50%–80% of recipients.Typhoid vaccination is not required for international travel, but it is recommended,particularly for those who will be traveling in smaller cities, villages, and rural areas off the usual tourist itineraries.

Visit a doctor or travel clinic to discuss your vaccination options.Remember that you will need to complete your vaccination at least 1 week before you travel so that the vaccine has time to take effect. Typhoid vaccines lose effectiveness after several years; if you were vaccinated in the past, check with your doctor to see if it is time for a booster vaccination. Taking antibiotics will not prevent typhoid fever; they only help treat it.