What is Typhoid Fever?

Although typhoid is no longer common nowadays because of the vaccines and better overall sanitation, families still need to take steps to prevent infection, especially when preparing their food.

Typhoid Fever
Simply put, typhoid fever is a type of infection caused by the Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi found in food and water. Doctors consider it a serious illness that sometimes show similar symptoms to other diseases. The danger of ignoring these seemingly harmless symptoms is the possibility of them developing into life-threatening complications. There is also a similar disease caused by the Salmonella Paratyphi A, B, and C called paratyphoid fever, which might be confused with typhoid.

Typhoid Symptoms
Symptoms vary among affected individuals, although they will exhibit these common signs of typhoid fever, such as; fever, headache and nausea, constipation or diarrhea, stomach pain, and loss of appetite. Typhoid fever may be mistaken for another illness, especially if the symptoms are mild, but ignoring these can place the person’s life in danger. A persistent of high-lasting fever should be a red flag that the person needs medical attention. The severity and the type of complication from typhoid fever also vary, that is why the number of fatalities are still high.

Typhoid Vaccine
Travelers are often advised to get one of the two vaccines available before traveling to countries that are at high risk. Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends two vaccines; such as the live attenuated oral Ty21a vaccine and the injectable polysaccharide vaccine. The former is recommended for individuals older than five years, while the latter is recommended for individuals two years and older.

Typhoid Prevention
Besides getting any of the two vaccines, you still need to observe sanitary practices when preparing your food. The vaccines after all are only 50% to 80% effective. The doctor will advise you to be careful when buying or preparing your food and drinks, especially if you travel to areas where the disease is common. As a precaution, make sure that your food is always served cooked and hot, dairy products are pasteurized, and the vegetables and fruits are washed in clean water. Avoid raw or undercooked or soft-cooked food, food made with fresh ingredients, and food served at room temperature.

Typhoid Treatment
Once the presence of the bacteria is detected in the blood, urine or stool, treatment begins with the prescription of antibiotics to fight off the Salmonella bacteria. However, doctors are careful when identifying the type of antibiotic that should be used, because it has to be based on the geographic region and the individual’s resistance. Usually, improvements can be seen within a period of ten days with proper care and medication. In some cases, the individual’s gallbladder is removed if the symptoms are severe. If left untreated, typhoid fever can lead to pneumonia or intestinal perforation.

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