Typhoid – History, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Definition

Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria. Typhoid fever is rare in industrialized countries. However, it remains a serious health threat in the developing world, especially for children.

Typhoid fever spreads through contaminated food and water or through close contact with someone who’s infected. Signs and symptoms usually include high fever, headache, abdominal pain, and either constipation or diarrhea.

Typhoid fever

Most people with typhoid fever feel better within a few days of starting antibiotic treatment, although a small number of them may die of complications. Vaccines against typhoid fever are available, but they’re only partially effective. Vaccines usually are reserved for those who may be exposed to the disease or are traveling to areas where typhoid fever is common.

How is typhoid fever spread?

  • Salmonella Typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed Salmonella Typhi in their feces (stool).
  • You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding Salmonella Typhi or if sewage contaminated with Salmonella Typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage.
  • Once Salmonella Typhi bacteria are eaten or drunk, they multiply and spread into the bloodstream. The body reacts with fever and other signs and symptoms.

History

A physician in Paris first described typhoid fever in 1829. The first vaccine to prevent typhoid fever was introduced in 1896. However, availability and widespread use of vaccines against typhoid fever have failed to materialize. As a consequence, especially in developing countries, the disease continues to be a significant problem. Before adequate antibiotic therapy was developed, untreated mortality from typhoid fever was 10%-30%. With the advent of modern medicine and antibiotic therapy, mortality has dropped to approximately 1%-4%.

Who Was Typhoid Mary?

Typhoid Mary is probably the most famous example of the carrier of Salmonella typhi, the cause of typhoid fever. After some people are infected with the bacteria, they recover from the illness, but the bacteria are still present in their body. These carriers continue to shed the bacteria and infect others even though they have no symptoms. Typhoid Mary was a woman who lived in New York City in the early 20th century. She worked as a cook and infected at least 49 people, of which three died. She refused to stop working as a cook and was ultimately jailed to protect the public.

Epidemiology

Typhoid fever occurs worldwide, primarily in developing nations whose sanitary conditions are poor. Typhoid fever is endemic in Asia, Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Oceania, but 80% of cases come from Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, or Vietnam. Within those countries, typhoid fever is most common in underdeveloped areas. Typhoid fever infects roughly 21.6 million people (incidence of 3.6 per 1,000 population) and kills an estimated 200,000 people every year.

In the United States, most cases of typhoid fever arise in international travelers. The average yearly incidence of typhoid fever per million travelers from 1999-2006 by county or region of departure was as follows:

  • Canada – 0
  • Western Hemisphere outside Canada/United States – 1.3
  • Africa – 7.6
  • Asia – 10.5
  • India – 89 (122 in 2006)
  • Total (for all countries except Canada/United States) – 2.2

Mortality/Morbidity

With prompt and appropriate antibiotic therapy, typhoid fever is typically a short-term febrile illness requiring a median of 6 days of hospitalization. Treated, it has few long-term sequelae and a 0.2% risk of mortality. Untreated typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness of several weeks’ duration with long-term morbidity often involving the central nervous system. The case fatality rate in the United States in the pre-antibiotic era was 9%-13%.

Types

Typhoid fever

Is caused by a Gram-negative organism Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica serovar Typhi (Salmonella typhi).

Paratyphoid fever

Is divided into three subtypes (A, B and C). Paratyphoid fever is caused by any of three serovars of Salmonella enterica subspecies enterica:

  • paratyphi A.
  • schottmuelleri (also called S. paratyphi B).
  • hirschfeldii (also called S. paratyphi C).

Type A is the most common worldwide, although B predominates in Europe. Type C is rare, and is seen only in the Far East.

The overall ratio of disease caused by S. typhi to that caused by S. paratyphi is about 10 to 1.

Risk factors

Typhoid fever remains a serious worldwide threat especially in the developing world affecting an estimated 26 million or more people each year. The disease is endemic in India, Southeast Asia, Africa, South America and many other areas.

Worldwide, children are at greatest risk of getting the disease, although they generally have milder symptoms than adults do.

If you live in a country where typhoid fever is rare, you’re at increased risk if you:

  • Work in or travel to areas where typhoid fever is endemic
  • Work as a clinical microbiologist handling Salmonella typhi bacteria
  • Have close contact with someone who is infected or has recently been infected with typhoid fever
  • Drinking water contaminated by sewage that contains typhi

Causes

Typhoid fever is caused by infection with Salmonella typhi. Salmonella typhi is similar to, but not the same as, the Salmonella bacteria that cause food poisoning in the US. Unlike most types of Salmonella, Salmonella typhi only live and reproduce inside humans.

Route of Transmission

Salmonella typhi is transmitted via the fecal-oral route. This means that it is spread from person to person when you eat, drink or even touch your mouth with anything contaminated with infected feces. Because the Salmonella typhi multiply in human intestines, the bacteria is shed in the feces (solid material passed during a bowel movement).

Modes of Transmission

Anything that becomes contaminated with feces that contain Salmonella typhi has the potential to spread the virus. The following are several ways you can get yellow fever:

  • Drinking contaminated water
  • Eating fresh fruits or vegetables that have been washed with contaminated water
  • Eating food prepared by someone who has not washed their hands thoroughly
  • Touching your mouth after going to the bathroom, before you wash your hands
  • Eating seafood harvested from a contaminated body of water (lake, ocean, river)
  • Having oral or anal sex with someone who is infected with the bacteria

High-risk Destinations

Typhoid fever is most common in countries where there is poor sanitation and lack of access to clean drinking water. In these countries it is more likely that infected human feces contaminate the water supply. In addition, handwashing may not be practiced as frequently as in developed countries (where food establishments require employees to wash hands).

Carriers

In some people the bacteria survives in the body even after treatment has effectively relieved their symptoms. These people are considered carriers, because the bacteria continues to be shed through their feces, so contact with their feces carries the disease to other people. Carriers don’t realize they are still infected because they don’t have symptoms.

Symptoms

Symptoms usually appear 1 or 2 weeks after infection but may take as long as 3 weeks to appear. Typhoid usually causes a high, sustained fever, often as high as 40°C (104°F), and extreme exhaustion.

High body temperature

Other common symptoms include:

  • Constipation
  • Cough
  • Headache
  • Loss of appetite
  • Stomach pains
  • Sore throat

Rarer symptoms include:

  • Bleeding from the rectum
  • Delirium
  • Diarrhea
  • Temporary pink spots on the chest and abdomen

In some people, signs and symptoms may return up to two weeks after the fever has subsided.

Pink coloured spots on the chest of a person with typhoid fever

 Complications

Serious complications of typhoid fever usually occur only in people who have not been treated or are treated late in the illness. Complications tend to develop during the third week of infection. The two most serious complications of typhoid fever are intestinal bleeding and intestinal perforation.

Intestinal Bleeding

Without treatment the bacteria continue to multiply in the intestines. Intestinal bleeding as a potential complication. The seriousness of the complication depends on the severity of the bleeding– how much blood is lost and how quickly. The first sign of intestinal bleeding can be a sudden drop in blood pressure. The following are symptoms of intestinal bleeding:

  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pale skin
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting blood
  • Blood in stools (stools appear dark and tar-like)
  • Intestinal bleeding may require a blood transfusion to replace blood loss.

Intestinal Perforation

Intestinal perforation is always a life-threatening complication. A perforation occurs when a hole develops in the walls of the intestines. The contents of the intestines then leak out through the hole and collect in the abdominal cavity. Perforation essentially lets the bacteria loose inside the body. The peritoneum is the lining of the abdominal cavity. Intestinal perforation can cause inflammation or infection of the peritoneum, a condition known as peritonitis. The following are signs and symptoms of intestinal perforation:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Sepsis (infection in the bloodstream)
  • Intestinal perforation is a medical emergency and requires immediate medical attention.

Diagnosis and test

Diagnosis includes questions about travel, examining blood, stool or bone marrow for evidence of infection, and additional testing to determine the particular strain of Salmonella typhi that is causing the illness.

Travel Abroad

Once symptoms have been evaluated, if typhoid fever (or any other unusual infectious disease) is suspected, your doctor will ask detailed questions about travel and potential contact with someone who has traveled or may be carrying the bacteria, such as the following:

Have you traveled out of the country recently?

What country did you travel to?

Do you remember what you ate or drank while you were there?

Do you have a family member or partner who has traveled abroad recently? Where did they travel?

Blood or stool sample

A sample of your blood and/or feces will be sent to the lab to be cultured to see if the S. typhi bacteria grow (the test is called a blood culture or stool culture). In some cases, an antibody test might be used to look for substances associated with Typhoid bacteria. A complete blood count (CBC) measures the number and type of blood cells in your blood sample. If you have typhoid fever the CBC may reveal a high white blood cell (WBC) count and a low number of platelets (blood cell fragments that help with blood clotting). If your tests are positive your close contacts and family members may also be tested for the illness.

Bone marrow biopsy

A bone marrow biopsy is a more accurate method of diagnosing typhoid fever, but it is much more complicated to perform. The bone marrow is the spongy material in the middle of certain bones that produce blood cells. A bone marrow biopsy involves using a long, hollow needle inserted into a bone, usually the pelvis or the breast bone, to obtain a tissue sample, which is examined under a microscope for evidence of the infection. A bone marrow biopsy is only performed if other tests are inconclusive.

Widal Test

Widal test is a presumptive serological test for enteric fever or undulant fever whereby bacteria causing typhoid and protozoa causing malaria fever are mixed with a serum containing specific antibodies obtained from an infected individual. In cases of Salmonella infection, it is a demonstration of the presence of O-soma false-positive result.

The Widal test is positive if TO antigen titer is more than 1:160 in an active infection, or if TH antigen titer is more than 1:160 in past infection or in immunized persons.

Strain identification

Further testing can determine what antibiotics will be most effective against your particular strain of Salmonella typhi.

Treatment and medications

Antibiotic therapy is the only effective treatment for typhoid fever.

Commonly prescribed antibiotics

Ciprofloxacin (Cipro): In the United States, doctors often prescribe this for nonpregnant adults. The dosage and duration for an adult is 500mg every 12hrs for 10 days.

Ceftriaxone (Rocephin): This injectable antibiotic is an alternative for people who may not be candidates for ciprofloxacin, such as children.

These drugs can cause side effects, and long-term use can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria.

Problems with antibiotic resistance

In the past, the drug of choice was chloramphenicol. Doctors no longer commonly use it, however, because of side effects, a high rate of health deterioration after a period of improvement (relapse) and widespread bacterial resistance.

In fact, the existence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria is a growing problem in the treatment of typhoid fever, especially in the developing world. In recent years, S. typhi also has proved resistant to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and ampicillin.

Other treatments

Drinking fluids: This helps prevent the dehydration that results from prolonged fever and diarrhea. If you’re severely dehydrated, you may need to receive fluids through a vein (intravenously).

Surgery: If your intestines become perforated, you’ll need surgery to repair the hole.

Best herbs for Typhoid treatment

Garlic

As with so many other infections, particularly those that affect the stomach and gastrointestinal system in such a serious way, garlic is an excellent natural remedy for typhoid fever. The powerful active ingredient in garlic, allicin, works as an antioxidant to eliminate the underlying infection caused by the Salmonella bacterium and strengthens the immune system in its vulnerable time of need. Eating 1-2 cloves of garlic per day can be a quick and simple solution to effectively ward off typhoid.

Ginger

Few people think of ginger as a natural health remedy, but it can have a number of stimulating effects on the body, including a boost to the liver, which can help to detoxify the body and reduce the strain on the immune system. Furthermore, ginger possesses gingerol, another powerful antioxidant that has antibacterial properties, helping it eliminate the basic infection-causing typhoid. Ginger can be eaten raw, drunk as a tea, pressed for the juice, or used in various culinary preparations.

Orange

The rich vitamin C content of oranges makes them a very important part of the immune system’s fight against infections. Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and stimulates the production of white blood cells, which are the body’s first line of defense against infections and foreign pathogens. Oranges are also good at soothing stomach upset and promoting normal digestion, as well as rapid healing once the infection has been eliminated.

Raisins

One of the most debilitating parts of typhoid fever is the savage attack it can mount on your stomach and gastrointestinal system. Ranging from severe diarrhea to unstoppable constipation, your gut takes a beating when you’re infected. Raisins can help to regulate the bowels, and bulk up a stool to eliminate symptoms of diarrhea.

Honey

Arguably the most concentrated form of nutrients and delicious flavor that you can add to your diet, honey is great for countering typhoid fever. It can give you a quick energy boost when you’re feeling exhausted, settle your stomach, and even counter the bacterial infection itself. Mix a tablespoon of honey with a glass of water or milk and drink it 2 times per day for relief.

Fluids

Whenever you are fighting through an infection, your body is likely to become dehydrated, as a fever is one of the most common symptoms of a bacterial infection. When it comes to typhoid fever, this is particularly true, but your body needs water to fight off the illness! Therefore, you must drink far more fluids than usual to compensate for the fluids you are losing in diarrhea and sweat while giving your body the resources it needs to fight.

Lemon

The reason that so many cleaning products smell like lemon is that it is a natural sanitizing agent. It can counter the effects of the bacteria that causes typhoid, and also clean out your stomach, alkalizing it and preventing the worst symptoms of typhoid, such as diarrhea and constipation.

Bananas

Potassium is an essential mineral in the body, particularly if we are suffering from an infection that dehydrates us. Potassium controls much of the fluid balance in the body, which is crucial while fighting an illness. [10] Potassium can also lower blood pressure and reduce fevers caused by typhoid fever.

Psyllium Seeds

he gastrointestinal symptoms of typhoid fever are brutal, but psyllium seeds have a legendary ability to regulate the bowels and normalize your gut. The high levels of fiber in psyllium seeds can completely eliminate diarrhea and reduce stomach distress, which can lower the strain being put on your immune system.

Prevention

Preventing typhoid is all about avoiding contaminated food and water. The same healthy practices will also help protect you from diseases such as cholera and hepatitis A, which are transmitted in the same way. Follow these guidelines to minimize your risk:

  • Boil or disinfect all water before drinking it – use disinfectant tablets or liquid available in pharmacies or drink commercially bottled (preferably carbonated) beverages.
  • Peel all fruit and vegetable skins before eating.
  • Keep flies away from food.
  • Watch out for ice cubes, ice cream, and unpasteurized milk, which can easily be contaminated.
  • Cook all food thoroughly and eat it while it’s hot.
  • Be aware of the “danger foods” shellfish, salads, and raw fruit and vegetables.
  • Do not eat food or drink beverages from street vendors.

At present, vaccinations against typhoid provide about 50% protection for 3 to 7 years – the duration of protection depends on the vaccine used. The vaccine is available as an oral capsule and as an injection. Your doctor will determine what form is best for you or your children. Even vaccinated people must follow the food safety tips listed above. It is best to be immunized at least 7 to 14 days before possible exposure (depending on the vaccine used).

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80 comments

  1. what are the medicine

  2. AITALEGBE WILLIAM SIMON A

    I have never seen explanation in form in the way, if is this way many will not sick again,

  3. Mr. Uduakobong Clement

    this is highly thoughtful.

  4. Really feel good to have this apps

  5. many thanks for the education about typhoid.

  6. nice information keep d flag flying the information contain therein is rich

  7. indept and undiluted info about typhoid

  8. i love this app. it is educating,enlightening,and awesome.

  9. Siranta Rupamajhi

    which medicines solution for this disease

  10. in addition to the antibiotics please recommend alternative medicines from Ayurveda and other remedies available.nowadays many people become resistance to antibiotics .hope you will take our views into consideration.thanks
    Dr swamy gastroenterologist.

  11. Is the typhoid repeat again?

    • When there is a re-occurring illness, it could mean that the patient is still exposed to the source of the infection.So the first thing is to cut off all possible sources of contamination. eg. food and water, etc.Take the water you drink regularly to the lab for testing.Next step is to stay on a vitamin/mineral/herbal immune booster for a while to enable your body fight what ever infection is left.

  12. Young Prince Uche

    so interested, but its prevention are so difficulty

  13. this is a thorough write up it is self explanatory

  14. Amirul Hassan Mirza

    Sir/ Madam.
    I have been suffering for Remittent fever from last 3 months which is related with Tydfiod fever.What medicine should I take??.Please tell me

  15. Is there any other drugs apart from the ones in the treatment list?

    • Yeah other drugs are also available. but those drugs which is mentioned in the treatment list are commonly used drugs for typhoid.

  16. I have the signs exactly

  17. Mary Wambui Kaguthi

    iam happy cause nimeelewa kitu my mum was very seek vomiting stomachache kuhara waa eating nothin but 4 she have been treated

  18. Francis Morie Lahai Enssah

    I am really really thought by your lesson note

  19. if i vomet intensionally what will happen

    • It is very bad for health if done regularly specially after alcohol intake. if done repeatedly and with great force may lead to rupture of the oesophagus which may be potentially life threatening ( although rare) . a lesser serious complication would be a Mallory Weiss tear . It could also lead to aspiration of food contents into your trachea . plus the reason why you have to do intentional vomiting needs to be explored . my advice would be to kindly visit a physician near you who will examine and counsel you accordingly.

  20. I am impressed with the work done on the topic of discuss, it’s quite exhaustive. my only question is that “how will you identify a carrier? during oral sex, are there signs in the Vaginal to identify the presence of the bacteria”?

    • Typhoid through oral sex is asymptomatic. Healthcare professionals perform follow-up cultures of stool specimens obtained from persons with sexually-acquired S. Typhi.

  21. Thanks for the broad knowledge.
    God bless n keep it up.
    Stephen

  22. Muhammed Adam kadau

    what name of injection that treat tphod

  23. so typhoid can be healed by using the drugs effectively e.g. cipro?

  24. I m happy.i gain knowledge this app.

  25. this is the best app
    thanks.

  26. ciprofloxacine is very good
    but am advice
    stool culture and anti biogramm(sensitivity test should
    be done

  27. Sunday EniYour Name

    thanks a lot for this wonderful lesson, I appreciate it.

  28. When I was reading about Typhoid here, I feel like that I am attaining a class on Typhoid. Really it is very helpfull.?

  29. thanks very for that information
    for the treatment cipro is mention but duration of intake not mentioned

  30. sir, what are the disinfectant tablets or liquid one can use to prevent typhoid?

    • The natural medicine is available to prevent typhoid is King of Bitters (Andrographis paniculata). It can be taken as a liquid juice.
      Two typhoid vaccines are available to prevent typhoid. One is a series of capsules and the other is an injection.

  31. any other medications?

  32. my mum is currently going through this illness and she is been treated with cipro IV and fluids. Am glad is curable. but how do we get the bacteria off completely after treatment
    ?

  33. Selina Akonnorbea

    Is very great education for some of us.thank u

  34. OK, lovely site

  35. Lawal Samaila DanmulkiYour Name

    You research as regards typhoid was excellent. However as you knew the parasites already developed all kind of resistance which made your past researcher in effective.
    There’s need further your findings. Weldone work.

  36. This is a great work and a tremendous help especially to people in developing countries.
    However, the disease names should have been alphabetical with common alternative names.
    thanks

  37. inj.ceftriaxone 1g.for 10 days.
    tab.mebverin 135mg.bid.
    tab.peracetamol tds.
    and take some kind of multivatimans.

  38. very very nice apps

  39. very educating,please can someone with stomach ulcer take ciprofloxacin tablet

  40. it’s very good solution for general practitioner doctors thank u a lot of.

  41. Thanks for the info.
    please I was actually diagnosed of typhoid and little bit of malaria from a lab test. Have been given drugs to treat typhoid (ciprotab) and malaria (coartem) but I still have high temperature, feeling cold and hot after I finished the above prescriptions. please does it mean the typhoid is still in my body?

  42. i never got like this medical app
    so much helpful for my medical studies…☺☺

  43. Thanks very much and i do appreciate that.

  44. I need some information about WIDAL TEST.

  45. information is useful but need to mention some more diet methods and care on intake methods

  46. Francis Davidson Your Name

    I have been to the hospital and was given some drugs. I have taken it, but still feels my headache. What should I do?

  47. i am suffering with typhoid from last 5 years and repeat about every 2 months…what can i do plz

    • Don’t stop the vaccine once it is cured. The general recommendation is to give typhoid vaccine at least 4 weeks after full recovery from the illness. Hence it might not reoccur.

  48. The write up and all written is so brief aid first aid thanks.

  49. very useful app that serves ppls money and life, keep up.

  50. can Norfloxacin be used to treat typhoid

  51. I love this app its help me a lot am a herbal fractional

  52. mention specific test for typhoid
    it is discussed that blood tests which blood tests??
    CBP??
    widal test is mandatory test for typhoid so i think mandatory parameters should be considered and what is the procedure for that specific tests hav 2 b discussed

  53. Am very happy for your work

  54. Mr Paul Emmanuel

    Is there any herbal treatment for typhoid fever.

  55. Ciprofloxin 500
    Azithromycin
    Paracetamol
    Esomiprazole
    Is the treatment for typhoid

  56. Posu Tokunboh KehindeYour Name

    Very interesting, if everyone can make use of this Dieases Dictionary and Treatment, I believe there will be no more sudden Death, or Casualties of any sickness. May we be healed by his strip in Jesus mighty name, Amen.

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