What is Typhoid, what causes it, how does it spread?
Typhoid fever or simply typhoid is an infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhii or S.typhi
- S. typhi spread through contaminated food, drink, or water. If you eat or drink something that is contaminated with the bacteria, the bacteria enter your body. They travel into your intestines, and then into your blood, thereby reaching other parts of your body.
Some persons become carriers of S. typhi and continue to release the bacteria in their stools for years, spreading the disease. The disease is endemic in India, Southeast Asia, Africa, South America and many other areas.
What are the signs and symptoms?
- Fever – starts low and increases daily, can reach as high as 40.5°C
- Muscle ache
- Loss of appetite, weight loss
- Diarrhoea or constipation
In some people, signs and symptoms may return up to two weeks after the fever has subsided (a relapse)
Approximately 3%-5% of patients become carriers of the bacteria after the acute illness.
How do we detect the infection?
A complete blood count (CBC) will show a high number of white blood cells. A blood culture during the first week of the fever can show S. typhi bacteria. Other tests include - Platelet count (platelet count may be low) and Stool culture
What is the treatment procedure?
Fluids and electrolytes are to be consumed, if serious then it is given by IV (into a vein). Antibiotics are given to kill the bacteria. Symptoms usually improve in 2 to 4 weeks with treatment.
When do I contact a doctor?
- See a doctor immediately if you suspect you have typhoid fever. You have had typhoid fever and the symptoms return.
- You develop severe abdominal pain, decreased urine output, or other new symptoms
How do I prevent myself from getting infected?
- Wash your hands -Frequent hand-washing in hot, soapy water is the best way to control infection. Wash before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for times when water isn't available.
- Avoid drinking untreated water -Contaminated drinking water is a particular problem in areas where typhoid fever is endemic. For that reason, drink only bottled water or canned or bottled carbonated beverages, wine and beer. Ask for drinks without ice. Use bottled water to brush your teeth, and try not to swallow water in the shower.
- Avoid raw fruits and vegetables.Because raw produce may have been washed in unsafe water, avoid fruits and vegetables that you can't peel, especially lettuce. To be absolutely safe, you may want to avoid raw foods entirely.
- Choose hot foods.Avoid food that's stored or served at room temperature. Steaming hot foods are best. And although there's no guarantee that meals served at the finest restaurants are safe, it's best to avoid food from street vendors — it is more likely to be contaminated.
How does typhoid fever spread?
The bacteria that cause typhoid fever spread through contaminated food or water and occasionally through direct contact with someone who is infected. In most cases, the infection results from contaminated drinking water and poor sanitation.
This means that S. typhi is passed in the feces and sometimes in the urine of infected people. You can contract the infection if you eat food handled by someone with typhoid fever who hasn't washed carefully after using the toilet. You can also become infected by drinking water contaminated with the bacteria.
How to prevent infecting others?
If you're recovering from typhoid fever, these measures can help keep others safe:
- Take your antibiotics.Follow your doctor's instructions for taking your antibiotics, and be sure to finish the entire prescription.
- Wash your hands often.This is the single most important thing you can do to keep from spreading the infection to others. Use hot, soapy water and scrub thoroughly for at least 30 seconds, especially before eating and after using the toilet.
- Avoid handling food.Avoid preparing food for others until your doctor says you're no longer contagious. If you work in the food service industry or a health care facility, you won't be allowed to return to work until tests show that you're no longer shedding typhoid bacteria.
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US National Library of Medicine
by Hridya Anand
A biochemist by education who could never put what she studied to good use, finally found GetDoc as a medium to do what she loved - bring information to people using a forum that is dedicated to all things medical. View all articles by Hridya Anand.