Typhoid fever is potentially life-threatening infection caused by the bacteria Salmonell typhi. The disease affects up to 16 million people with approx 600,000 deaths worldwide. Sanitary facilities improvements have has virtually eliminated thypoid in many areas, but still remains a problem in many developing countries.
Typhoid is symptoms are recognised by the onset of a fever, severe headaches nausea, fatique and loss of appetite and can sometimes have signs of delirium, constipation, diarrhoea, bloody stools or a rash may appear. In severe cases of typhoid fever, bleeding from gut , perforation of the small intestine, pneumonia , meningitis and kidney failure.
Typhoid is normally transmitted in food or water contaminated by sewage. Sources of infection are shellfish from sewage polluted beds, contaminated raw fruit, vegetables, milk , milk products and pollution of water sources. The disease can be transmitted by humans as long as the bacteria remains in their system. 10% of untreated patients will discharge bacteria for approx 3mths, while 2% – 5% of untreated patients will become permanent carriers. Typhoid is common in many parts of the world, except in industrialised regions such as Western Europe, United States, Canada, Australia and Japan. Therefore, anyone travelling to these countries in the developing world, you should take precautions. Typhoid fever is most prevalent in Africa, Far East and Indian subcontinent and South America where hygiene conditions are poor. Vaccinations are generally recommended if you are considering travelling to endemic areas where sanitation and hygiene may be poor. More so if you travel to rural areas, involving close contact with indigenous populations, and /or exposure to potentially unsafe food and water.