Typhoid Fever Overview

What is Typhoid?

Typhoid Fever is a potentially fatal disease which is caused by a type of Salmonella bacteria, affecting travelers to countries where sanitation may be poor.

How do you get Typhoid?

Typhoid Fever is caused by the accidental ingestion of feces or urine of another person already infected with the Salmonella typhi bacteria. Typically this occurs through eating contaminated food or drinking untreated water.

What are the symptoms of Typhoid?

While some people develop no symptoms (and may become carriers), others may experience initial symptoms of gradually increasing fatigue, fever, headache, loss of appetite, constipation, and dry cough, about 1 to 3 weeks after infection. If left untreated, more severe symptoms will develop.

What are the treatments for Typhoid?

Typhoid can be successfully be treated with various antibiotics. Although there are some multi-drug-resistant strains, there are antibiotics available to combat even these.

How can you prevent getting infected with Typhoid?

There are Typhoid vaccines available for partial (50% - 55%) protection against Typhoid. Since total immunization is not achievable at the moment, additional sanitation-related preventative measures are advised.

Typhoid Symptoms

About 1 to 3 weeks after becoming infected, symptoms may develop, such as a gradually increasing fatigue, fever and headache, loss of appetite, dry cough, and constipation.
If left untreated, more serious symptoms may develop, such as a persistent high fever, rash on the body, slowing of heart rate, and enlargement of the liver and spleen.
If still left untreated, approximately 16% of those infected die from typhoid fever.
Fortunately, there are multiple antibiotics available to treat even multi-drug-resistant strains of the bacteria, and symptoms usually clear after a few days.
A small percentage of individuals never show symptoms, and instead may become silent carriers of the bacteria, able to infect others.

Typhoid Prevention

While there are oral and injectable typhoid vaccines available to help protect against typhoid, these are only 50% - 55% effective at providing protection.
Nevertheless, it is still recommended to receive a typhoid vaccine 1 to 2 weeks before departure to help protect the traveler.
Since vaccines provide only partial protection, other preventative measures become very important in protecting the traveler against contracting typhoid.

Other preventative measures include:

  • Staying in urban areas in resorts or business-class hotels
  • Staying in areas with good sewage sanitation and water filtration
  • Wash your hands before eating and drinking
  • Avoid swimming in polluted or contaminated water
  • Brush your teeth with purified or bottled water
  • Take care in sourcing food and drink:
    • Buy bottled water or bring water to a 1 minute rolling boil before drinking
    • Avoid ice or popsicles
    • Eat foods which have been thoroughly cooked and still hot
    • Avoid raw vegetables that cannot be peeled
    • Peel vegetables and fruits yourself and discard the peelings
    • Avoid food and beverages from street vendors or market stalls
    • Avoid shellfish if taken from sewage-polluted areas
    • Avoid unpasteurized dairy products