Typhoid is a serious bacterial infection that spreads through the contamination of food and water. It is caused by Salmonella Typhi bacteria. Typhoid can lead to a high fever, vomiting and diarrhoea. If typhoid is diagnosed early, it can be treated with antibiotics. If not, it can be fatal. Urbanization and climate change have the potential to increase the risk of typhoid infection and spread. In addition, increasing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics making it easier for it to spread through overcrowded cities with inadequate water treatment and sanitation systems.
Typhoid spreads through oral-faecal route. (Passes through contaminated food or water) It can also be passed through direct contact with a person infected with typhoid. There are a small number of people who don’t suffer by typhoid but carry the S.typhi. These ‘carriers’ can also spread the infection. It is most prevalent in underdeveloped and developing countries where the water and sanitation facilities are poor. Regions such as India, Africa, South America and South-East Asia have a higher incidence of typhoid than other countries.
Symptoms of typhoid usually start showing between 6 and 30 days after the exposure or infection.
Fever and rashes are the two major symptoms. The fever gradually increases day by day. And the rash, which doesn’t affect every patient, is mostly found in the neck and abdomen area.
Other symptoms of typhoid are as follows,
- Stomach pain
- Poor appetite
- Constipation or diarrhoea
If left untreated, typhoid can cause more complications like intestinal bleeding or the fatal bloodstream infection, sepsis. Some of the complications that untreated typhoid could cause are,
- Kidney or bladder infections
Another infection, paratyphoid, caused by Salmonella enteric, has similar symptoms, but is less life-threatening.
Antibiotics are the only effective treatment for typhoid. Most commonly used antibiotics include Ciprofloxacin and Ceftriaxone. In severe cases, where the intestines have become perforated, surgery may be required. The developing resistance of the bacteria to the available antibiotics is a major concern for medical practitioners. New antibiotics such as Cephalosporins and Azithromycin are being used because of this reason. Resistance to Azithromycin has been reported but is not common as of yet. Even when the fever goes away, patients may still be carrying the bacteria. This increases the risk of it spreading to someone around them. Some practices have to be followed when you are being treated for typhoid.
- Take the prescribed antibiotics as long as the doctor asks you to, even if the fever goes away.
- Wash your hands with soap every now and then.
- Do not prepare or serve food.
- Have your doctor to ensure that the bacteria in completely eliminated before stopping your course of antibiotics.
There are two types of vaccinations against typhoid. But neither of them is completely effective.
Oral- A live vaccine that consists of 4 pills. One to be taken every second day. The last pill would be taken a week before your travel.
Shot- An inactive vaccine, administered two weeks before travel.
Your doctor might suggest typhoid vaccination under the following circumstances,
- If you are a carrier without the fever
- If you are in close contact with a carrier
- If you are travelling to a place where typhoid is common
- If you a laboratory worker who may come in contact with S.typhi
However, vaccines do not give you complete protection from typhoid. Fortunately, there are some preventative measures you can take in order to keep the bacteria out of your system.
Ensure food is properly cooked and still hot when served.
Avoid raw milk. Drink only pasteurized or boiled milk.
Avoid ice unless it is made from safe water.
When the safety of drinking water is questionable, boil or disinfect it with a reliable, slow-release disinfectant agent
Wash hands thoroughly and frequently using soap after contact with pets or farm animals, or after having been to the toilet.
Wash fruits and vegetables carefully with clean water, particularly if they are eaten raw.
If you’re recovering from typhoid fever, these measures can help keep others safe:
Be sure to finish the entire prescription of antibiotics so that the bacteria is completely wiped out.
The most important thing you can do to keep from spreading the infection to others is to wash your hands often. Use soapy water and scrub thoroughly for at least 30 seconds, especially before eating and after using the toilet.
Avoid preparing food for others until your doctor says you’re no longer contagious. If you work in the food service industry or a healthcare facility, don’t return to work until tests show that you’re no longer shedding typhoid bacteria.
Typhoid is really contagious and preventing it might be quite a task. But one can always be clean and take proper measures in order to avoid the bacteria as treating it is a bigger task than ever, with the growing resistance of the bacteria to existing medications. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you have an unexplained fever that seems to be rising every day, it is advisable for you to seek a doctor right away. For more queries on typhoid or its vaccinations, feel free to get in touch with our doctors at 91-080-61930123 or firstname.lastname@example.org