of typhoid fever
is typhoid fever?
is a life threatening illnes which is caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi.
It lives in humans and people with the disease carry the bacteria in their bloodstream
and intestinal tract. A small number of people may recover from typhoid fever
but still carry the bacteria.
Typhoid fever is transmitted through food and drink
which has been handled by a person who is shedding S. typhi. Another method
of transmission is through contaminated water used for drinking or washing food.
Once the bacteria is consumed, it multiplies and speads into the blood stream
causing high fever, stomach pains, headache or loss of appetite. It may also
cause a rash. Diagnosis is based on analysis of a stool or blood sample.
common is it?
is common in most parts of the world apart from developed countries such as
Western Europe, the US, Canada, Australia and Japan. It is estimated that typhoid
affects 12.5 million people each year. Therefore, it is strongly advisable to
take precautions if you are travelling to regions where you will be at risk.
is typhoid fever prevented?
The mainstay of
prevention is vaccination. You will need to visit your GP or clinic at least
one week before travelling in order for the vaccination to work.
However, vaccines may not be fully effective so
it is vital to avoid risky foods. Being careful with what you eat and drink
will also help protect you from other illnesses such as diarrhoea, hepatitis
A, dysentry and cholera.
food and drink should be avoided?
The phrase Boil
it, cook it, peel it or forget it! sums up the advice to travellers. Prevention
- Buy bottled water or boil it. Bottled carbonated
water is safer than still water.
- Dont consume ice cubes or ice pops.
- Only eat foods that have been fully cooked and
are hot and steaming.
- Avoid raw vegetables and salads in restaurants
and other food outlets.
- If you are preparing raw fruit or vegetables,
wash your hands thoroughly first, then peel them.
- Avoid buying food and drink from street vendors
of typhoid fever
If you suspect
you have typhoid fever, see a doctor immediately. Antibiotics are used to treat
the disease and within 2-3 days, symptoms will subside. However, it is estimated
that 20% of those who do not seek treatment die from complications.
It is recommended that people who are being treated
for typhoid should:
- Ensure that they take the full course of prescribed
- Wash their hands frequently, particularly if
preparing food or serving food to other people.
- Visit a doctor who will take stool tests to
confirm that the bacteria is no longer present.
Your GP or vaccination centre will be able to advise
you on the precautions necessary for travel to various regions. Travel vaccination
information is also available at www.cdc.gov/travel/.
The Tropical Medical Bureau, www.tmb.ie
is a useful Irish source of information on travel health.
to top of page