Typhoid fever is a common diseased condition caused due to Salmonella typhi bacteria. Typhoid fever is less common in industrialized countries. However, typhoid fever remains as a serious health condition especially for children that require immediate medical attention.
Contaminated food and water can spread the infection to the healthy individuals. If you are in close contact with the infected individual, you are more likely to get infection. Mostly people recover with typhoid fever easily, others need medical assistance to complete recover from typhoid.
The symptoms associate with typhoid is categorized into two based on initial and late illness.
Initial illness symptoms include the following:
- Fever that increases rapidly and may reach as high as 104.9F
- Severe headache
- Weakness and fatigue
- Muscle aches
- Dry cough
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Skin rash
- Swollen abdomen
The later illness symptoms are visible only when it is left untreated and may cause severe weakness and you may feel exhausted and motionless when you lie down.
Typhoid Fever Causes
The main cause of typhoid fever is Salmonella typhi. The bacterium that is responsible for causing typhoid fever is spread through contaminated food or water and rarely through direct contact. This bacterium is usually spread through fecal-oral route.
Fecal-oral transmission route
Salmonella typhi is generally passed in the feces of an infected individual and sometimes in the urine of an infected individual. When you eat food prepared by an infected individual who hasn’t wash his/her hands carefully after using rest rooms can cause typhoid fever. When you drink water contaminated with bacteria, you are at high risk of infection.
Majority of the people in industrialized countries can get infected with the bacterium while traveling and can spread the infection through the fecal-oral route.
There are a small number of people who are recover from typhoid fever completely and rest still carry the bacteria and act as carriers. Even after using certain antibiotics there are a small number of people who harbor this bacterium in their intestinal tracts or gallbladder. The people who carry the bacterium are generally referred as chronic carriers as they shed bacteria in the urine and feces. These chronic carriers are capable of infecting healthy individuals, although they themselves no longer have the signs or symptoms of typhoid fever.
Risk factors of Typhoid fever
Around 26 million people suffer from typhoid fever every year and are considered as a worldwide threat. Typhoid fever is endemic in India and many other countries. Children are generally at high risk of infection. Children generally show milder symptoms when compared to adults.
You are at increased risk of typhoid fever when you:
- Work in or travel to places where typhoid fever is endemic
- Work as a microbiologist and handle the bacterium on a daily basis
- Are in close contact with an infected individual
- Eat or drink foods that contains the causative organism S.typhi
Typhoid Fever Prevention
Typhoid can be prevented by following the simple guidelines when traveling to high-risk areas:
- Wash your hands soon after using rest rooms and before eating and prepare food.
- Use alcohol based hand sanitizer to kill the germs present on your hands when water is not available.
- Wash fruits and vegetables before eating or preparing food.
- Prefer hot foods as it is less likely to be contaminated
- Avoid street food as the risk of contamination is more.