What is it?

Typhoid fever is an infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi which is found in contaminated food and water

What are the symptoms?

Persistent fever as high as 40°C (104° F) headache, confusion, dizziness, dry cough, loss of appetite and either constipation or diarrhea

Some people also develop a rash of flat, rose-colored spots on their chest and back

If typhoid is untreated, symptoms get progressively worse for 2 weeks

Other complications may include elevated respiration, slowing heartbeat, severe delirium, abdominal swelling and internal bleeding

Typhoid that is not treated can lead to inflammation of internal organs including the heart, spleen and liver, and it can be fatal

Some people who are infected with typhoid do not develop symptoms

Up to 5% of people who recover from typhoid become healthy carriers who are capable of infecting other people

How can I contract typhoid?

You can get typhoid by eating foods or drinking beverages that have been handled by someone who is infected with typhoid

You can also contract it by eating produce that has been fertilized with human waste or drinking or preparing food with contaminated water

Where can I contract it?

High-risk regions include

South Asia as well as developing countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Central and South America and the Middle East

Typhoid fever is more common in parts of the developing world where sewage may not be disposed of safely and basic hygiene such as hand washing may not be practiced

What vaccines are available?

Injectable Typhim Vi (R) and oral Vivotif (R) vaccines

How many shots will I need?

The injectable vaccination is given in a single shot

The oral vaccine is given in 4 doses

Will I need a booster?

If you have continuing exposure to typhoid you should have an injectable booster every 2 years or an oral vaccine booster every 5 years

How can I prevent typhoid?

Drink bottled water and fluids

Boil water, use filters or water purification drops

Safe food and water precautions and frequent hand washing are important

The rule of thumb is “boil it, peel it, cook it or forget it!”

What is the treatment for it?

Typhoid is treated with rehydration

Antibiotics are sometimes used

Treatment with antibiotics is not always effective and can cause complications

Hospital admission is sometimes required

Typhoid can be fatal without the right treatment which is based on individual circumstances

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