Typhoid, also known as typhoid fever, is a serious bacterial disease that can be contracted through contaminated food or water. This disease is most prevalent in parts of South America, Africa and Asia. Are you planning on travelling to an area with an elevated risk of typhoid? Visit our clinic for more information.
This disease is contracted through contaminated food or water that contains the feces of a person with the ailment. This contamination usually occurs under conditions of poor sanitation or hygiene, and as such campaigns that preach good hygiene skills in countries where the disease is prevalent have been shown to be effective in outbreak reduction.
Symptoms & Treatment
A major symptom of typhoid is a high fever, which can last for several weeks. Other complications of the disease can include delirium, weight loss, intestinal hemorrhage, and encephalitis. Although very serious, typhoid is not usually fatal and can be treated with antibiotics, though there is some concern that the bacteria are becoming resistant to some antibiotics. 21 million people a year get typhoid globally.
Geography & Prevention
An elevated risk of this disease exists in countries with warm weather and underdeveloped waste and water treatment systems.
British immunologist Almroth Edward Wright created the first effective typhoid vaccine in1897. A similar vaccine is available today, and is safe for people aged two and older. The vaccine becomes effective after ten days of being administered. The treatment doesn’t prevent the disease completely however, and extra precautions should be taken to ensure safety from the illness. For example, travellers should stick to boiled water for any use such as cleaning dishes, making ice and brushing teeth. When boiling is not available, bottled water is best (carbonated is even better). Visitors are advised to wipe the mouth of the can or bottle before drinking from it, and remember not to swallow any water in the shower. Eating cooked food that is served steaming hot is best – avoidance of raw foods is advised. Fruit and vegetables with a thick skin, and able to peel, such as oranges, are a safe choice.
Experts believe typhoid could have existed as far back as 430 BC, and may be to blame for an outbreak in Ancient Greece that killed one third of the population. Similar outbreaks devastated the town of Jamestown, Virginia in the 1600s, and Chicago in the 19th century. From 1900-1907 an Irish-born cook worked in several homes, and each one saw an outbreak of typhoid. Mary Mallon caused so many cases of typhoid in New York in the early 1900s, she became known as Typhoid Mary. As a result of her story, scientists were able to determine that typhoid carriers are able to spread the disease to others. Interestingly, Mary had never experienced any symptoms of typhoid herself – she was naturally immune.