TYPHOID FEVER – FACTS YOU DIDN’T KNOW

Typhoid fever is an infective illness caused by a bacteria called Salmonella typhi (S.typhi).  There is another illness, Paratyphoid fever, caused by Salmonella paratyphi A, B and C. Together, they are referred to as ENTERIC FEVER. However, paratyphoid fever is usually milder.

Both are spread via contaminated food and/or water.

The period between infection and manifestation of symptoms is 10 to 14 days

S.typhi can survive in water for 7 days, in sewage for 14days, and in ice cream for 1 month.

It affects all age groups, male and female alike.

Humans are the only reservoir of infection.

Some people are CARRIERS of the infection and shed the organism in their faeces and/ or urine. The organism hides in their gall bladder and is “discharged” intermittently.

How does one get infected?

  • Contaminated food, directly by a “carrier” food handler
  • Contaminated water : from a polluted water source, or that contaminated by faeces
  • Milk – borne: either by direct contamination via a carrier or from utensils
  • Ice – cream: directly contaminated via a carrier
  • Vegetables and salads, especially if grown with human faeces as manure
  • Flies

Features

First week:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Body pains
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting and stooling in children

By the end of second week, complications may set in such as:

  • Perforation of the intestine
  • Meningitis
  • Kidney infection
  • Arthritis

Important laboratory tests

First week

  • White cell count
  • Blood culture

Second week

  • Stool and urine culture

WIDAL REACTION IS NOT A RELIABLE TEST FOR DIAGNOSIS and should be interpreted with caution especially in those who have been vaccinated.

Prevention

  • Sanitary disposal of faeces
  • Water purification
  • Good personal hygiene
  • Hand washing
  • Vaccination

After treatment, stool and urine samples  should be negative for the bacteria on 3 occasions carried out at minimum of 48hrs interval.

Ignorance can kill. Stay informed, stay healthy.

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