Typhoid is an acute illness caused by poor sanitation facilities. Also known as typhoid fever, it is prevalent in developing as well as third-world countries and very rarely found in developed regions.
World Health Organization (WHO) estimates around 16-33 million incidences occur annually resulting into 2,16, 000 deaths in endemic areas. Typhoid is a serious health issue among children and young adults between 5-18 years of age.
Typhoid is caused by the bacteria called Salmonella typhi.
The disease occurs when a person ingests food or drink contaminated by the bacteria.
Human body temperature provides a favourable breeding ground to Salmonella typhi. Even after being cured, infected person continue to be the passive carrier for the bacteria which gets passed in the stool. The stool of infected person contains a very high concentration of bacteria. From the stool, the disease-causing bacteria contaminate the nearby water supply. Salmonella typhi can survive in sewage water supply for a long time. This infected water supply can be used for cooking or drinking purposes. That is how the bacteria transmitted into humans.
Usually, the symptoms show 1-2 days after ingestion of contaminated item and the disease lasts from four to six weeks. The symptoms of typhoid include:
- Extremely high fever, running up to 103 to 104 F
- Fatigue and weakness
- Loss of appetite
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Abdominal pain
- Cough and chest congestion can sometimes develop
Who are at risk?
Following are at risk of contracting the infection:
- Those who work or travel to regions with poor hygiene standards
- Those who work as pathologist or clinical microbiologist and have to handle the infectious bacteria strains
- If you are in close contact of someone who is infected or has been recently infected with typhoid
- If you have a weak immune system
- Drinking unclean water or eating unhygienic food also puts you at the risk
Diagnosis and Treatment
If you are your suffering from high fever and see a rash, you should immediately contact a doctor. Doctor will conduct a physical examination and perform blood or stool test to confirm the disease. Antibiotics such as ampicillin and ciprofloxacin are generally prescribed to cure the infection along with antipyretics to reduce fever as well as analgesics to treat pain. In addition to the prescribed medicines, certain dietary changes (like below) are also recommended to the typhoid patients:
- Eat smaller frequent meals
- Drink lots of fluid to avoid dehydration
- Take more proteins as compared to fat and fibres in the food.
- Avoid fatty, fried and spicy food. Keep it bland and soft.
If proper medical attention is not given to someone suffering from typhoid, it may lead to fatal complications like kidney failure or intestinal haemorrhage
Vaccines are available in the market for typhoid fever. Apart from that, follow safe eating habits and maintain good personal hygiene.