What is typhoid fever?
Typhoid fever is a highly contagious bacterial disease, caused by Salmonella typhi. The transmission of typhoid fever is through ingestion of food or drink contaminated by the excreta of infected people. Children and young adults between the age of 5 and 19 years old are at high risk of developing this fever. Initial typhoid feversymptoms include headache, high fever, abdominal pain, and either constipation or diarrhea. This fever spreads quickly throughout the body and attack different organs. Without apt treatment, it can create serious complications and can even take the life of a person.
As per the reports, an estimated 161,000 deaths occurred due to the typhoid fever in the year 2013. Scientists and researchers have stated in their studies that Typhoid fever is rare in industrialized countries. However, it is a grave concern in the developing world, especially for children. Vaccines are available to treat typhoid fever, but they’re only partially effective.
Symptoms of typhoid fever:
Typhoid fever symptoms usually develop one or two weeks after a person becomes infected. Children who develop typhoid fever become sick suddenly and symptoms are more likely to develop gradually. In general, the incubation period of the condition is usually one to two weeks, and the duration of the illness is about four to six weeks. During this time, the patient experiences typhoid fever symptoms like:
• Poor appetite
• Abdominal pain
• Aches and pains
• Intestinal bleeding (after two to three weeks of the disease)
• Fever (often up to 1040F)
• Lethargy (if typhoid fever left untreated)
Many patients suffering from typhoid fever develop chest congestion. Additionally, abdominal pain and discomfort are common, and the temperature becomes constant. The condition of the people improves in the third and fourth week if there are no complications. Approximately, 10% of patients have recurrent symptoms after feeling better for one to two weeks. Relapses of typhoid fever symptoms are common in individuals treated with antibiotics.
Treatment of typhoid fever:
Your doctor will diagnose the condition based your symptoms, and medical and travel history. But the confirmation of the diagnosis depends on identifying the Salmonella typhi in your blood or other body fluid or tissue. To treat the condition, you may be prescribed antibiotics because these are the only effective treatment for typhoid fever symptoms. Your doctor may recommend you to take the below-mentioned antibiotics:
• Ciprofloxacin- This drug is prescribed for non-pregnant patients
• Ceftriaxone- This antibiotic is an alternative for pregnant women and for children who are not supposed to take Ciprofloxacin.
Prior to the use of antibiotics, the fatality rate was 20%, but after the antibiotics treatment, the mortality rate has been reduced to 1% to 2%. Reports have suggested, with appropriate antibiotic treatment of typhoid fever, patients improve their condition within one to two days and recovery within seven to 10 days.
Prevention of typhoid fever:
In various developing countries, prevention of typhoid by making drinking water safe, improved sanitation and adequate medical care may be difficult to achieve. Due to the previously mentioned reasons, experts believe that vaccinating people of the high-risk nations is the best way to control typhoid fever. The CDC has issued recommendations including typhoid vaccine for those traveling to areas where the risk of getting typhoid fever is high. According to the World Health Organization, two typhoid vaccines are available internationally, which are considered safe and effective. These include:
• An injectable polysaccharide vaccine based on the purified Vi antigen for children under the age of two years
• A live attenuated oral Ty21a vaccine available in capsules for people above the age of five years
Apart from taking the typhoid vaccine, follow these guidelines when traveling to high-risk areas like Africa, Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and South and Southeast Asia:
• Wash your hands frequently with hot and soapy water as this is the best way to control infection. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer because it helps you when water isn’t available.
• Avoid drinking untreated water. Drink only bottled water because it is safer than uncarbonated bottled water is.
Typhoid fever is extremely contagious and to stay away from it, you need to be extra cautious. If you have been vaccinated against typhoid or not, it is important for you to follow the guidelines as mentioned earlier when traveling to countries where typhoid fever is present.