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Typhoid fever is a life-threatening infection caused by bacteria. It is common in the rest of the world, but not in the U.S. Most cases in this country are in people who got the disease while traveling elsewhere.
You can get the disease by eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with the bacteria.
Typhoid fever is caused by bacteria (S. typhi). The bacteria are passed on by eating food or drinking water that has been touched by someone with the disease. The bacteria are also found in the infected person’s stool. You can also get the disease if water used for drinking or washing food is contaminated with sewage containing the bacteria.
People who recover from typhoid fever still carry the bacteria and can pass them on to other people.
Once the bacteria are in your body, they increase in number and spread into your blood. You may not have symptoms for 6 to 30 days after the first exposure. Symptoms may include:
The symptoms may look like other health problems. Always see your health care provider for a diagnosis.
See your health care provider right away if you think you have been exposed to typhoid fever. People who are not treated may have a fever for weeks or months. They may eventually die from complications.
Antibiotics are often used to treat typhoid fever. But your health care provider will figure out the best treatment for you based on:
It is important to remember that the danger of typhoid fever does not end when symptoms go away. You could still be carrying the bacteria. The illness could also return. Or you could pass the disease to other people. You should:
Complications of typhoid fever include intestinal bleeding and a hole in the intestine. Either of these can be fatal if not treated right away.
Once your symptoms are gone, you may still have the typhoid bacteria in your body. Follow up with your health care provider to make sure the bacteria are completely gone. You will also need to practice good hygiene. Wash your hands before and after you use the bathroom. You should also not make food for anyone else until the bacteria are gone.
Typhoid fever is very common in developing countries. Travelers to Africa, Latin America, and Asian countries except Japan are at highest risk. A vaccine is available. It should be taken 1 to 2 weeks before traveling. But it can lose effectiveness after several years. So you may need a booster shot.
You can also prevent typhoid when traveling by only using water that has been boiled or chemically disinfected. Use this water for:
Also do not eat food from street vendors. Any raw food could be contaminated. Avoid:
Other tips for prevention:
Tips to help you get the most from a visit to your health care provider:
Bayhealth is Southern Delaware’s healthcare leader with hospitals in Dover and in Milford. Bayhealth provides a wide range of medical services, including cardiovascular, cancer, orthopaedics and rehabilitation, pediatrics, respiratory care, sleep care, surgical weight loss and women’s services.