WHAT IS TYPHOID FEVER?
Typhoid is a common worldwide bacterial disease transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the feaces of an infected persons which contain the bacterium Salmonella typhi .The disease has received other names like gastric fever, abdominal typhus, nervous fever. Typhoid fever is rare in industrial countries but continues to be a significant public- health issue in developing countries.
HOW CAN ONE CONTRACT TYPHOID FEVER?
The bacterium which causes typhoid fever may be spread through poor hygiene habits and public sanitation conditions and sometimes also by flying insects feeding on feaces.
Typhoid fever is contracted by the ingestion of the bacteria in contaminated food or water. Patient with acute illness can contaminate the surrounding water supply through stool which contains a high concentration of the bacteria. About 3-5% of patients become carriers of the bacteria after the acute illness. Some patients who suffer a very mild illness that goes unrecognized can become a long term carriers of the bacteria. The bacteria multiply in the gall bladder, bileducts or liver and passes into the bowel. The bacteria can survive for weeks in water or dried sewage. The chronic carriers may have no symptoms and can be the source of new outbreaks of typhoid fever for many years.
HOW DOES THE BACTERIA CAUSE THE DISEASE?
After the ingestion of the contaminated food or water, salmonella bacteria invade the small intestine and enter the blood stream temporarily. The bacteria are carried by the white blood cells in the liver, spleen and bone marrow, the bacteria multiplies in these organs and reenters the blood stream.
Patients develop symptoms including fever when organisms reenter blood stream. Bacteria invade the gall bladder, biliary system and the lymphatic tissue of the bowel, there multiplying in high numbers. The bacteria pass into the intestinal tract and can be identified for diagnosis in cultures from the stool tested in laboratory.
SYMPTOMS OF TYPHOID FEVER
The incubation period is usually one or two weeks, and the duration of the illness is about 4-6 weeks. The patient experiences:
- Poor appetite
- Abdominal pain
- Fever often up to 104◦F
- Intestinal bleeding or perforation
- Diarrhea or constipation
CAN TYPHOID FEVER BE PREVENTED?
Sanitation and hygiene are critical measures that can be taken to prevent typhoid. Typhoid does not affect animals and therefore transmission is only from human to human. Typhoid can only spread in environments where human feaces or urine is able to come into preparation and washing of hands are crucial to preventing typhoid.
There are two vaccine licensed for use for the prevention of typhoid, the live, oral Ty21a vaccine and the injectable Typhoid Polysaccharide Vaccine.
WHAT IS THE TREATMENT?
Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics that kill the salmonella bacteria. Antibiotics such as ampicillin, chloramphenicol, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, amoxicillin and ciprofloxacin have been commonly used to treat typhoid fever.