According to a recent report by WHO, an estimated 11-20 million people yearly get sick from typhoid and between 128,000 to 161,000 deaths are recorded every year.
Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection that can cause diarrhoea, high fever and vomiting. It is a life-threatening illness caused by a bacteria called Salmonella typhi.
Typically, typhoid fever is often spread through contaminated foods or drinking water. It can also be contracted through close contact with someone who is a carrier of the bacteria.
Furthermore, a body of research has also identified factors such as climate change, urbanization and increasing antibiotics resistance to be responsible for making typhoid spread easier.
Symptoms of Typhoid
Some of the signs and symptoms of typhoid usually manifest about 2 to 3 weeks after being exposed to the bacteria. Common signs and symptoms of the illness include:
- Abdominal pains
- Weight loss and loss of appetite
Risk Factors of Typhoid
Compared to adults, children are at a higher risk of contracting typhoid even though the symptoms are often less severe. A list of some of the most common risk factors include:
- Living or working in areas/regions where typhoid is endemic.
- Drinking/eating contaminated water or food that contains Salmonella typhi.
- Having close contact with someone who is a carrier of the bacteria.
- Lack of access to clean safe water and poor environmental sanitation.
- Vaccination: Taking into consideration factors such as limited access to safe clean water and poor environmental sanitation which allows for the easy spread of typhoid particularly in low-income countries, vaccination is believed to be one of the trusted ways to help control the spread of typhoid fever. Vaccination is especially important and recommended for people who either live or intend travelling to locations where the risk of getting typhoid is high.
- Wash your hands often: Regularly washing your hands especially after using the restroom is very important. Usually, typhoid is spread by contact and ingestion of infected human faeces which can happen through infected water or when handling food. Thus wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water even before eating and /or preparing food. Having a hand sanitizer that you can easily carry around wouldn’t be a bad idea.
- Do not drink unhealthy water: Drinking contaminated water is one easy way to get typhoid. Avoid drinking water from unclean sources. As much as you can drink only carbonated bottled water which is quite safer than other counterparts.
- Avoid raw fruits and vegetables: This is not to say fruits and vegetables in themselves are not good to eat but because chances are most of them may have been washed in unsafe water. For fruits that you can peel, the best bet is to ensure you wash them properly again before eating. While fruits such as lettuce that can’t be peeled, completely avoiding them may the advisable thing to do.
- Avoid eating foods from roadside restaurants and/or food vendors. Also, when looking to eat any meal, having food when it’s steaming hot is always the best option.
- As much as possible, avoid eating foods that have been handled by someone.
- Avoid having ice in drinks.
Treatment for Typhoid
As of today, typhoid is very much treatable with the right antibiotics. This is in spite of the growing cases of antibiotics resistance which has fostered the creation of new antibiotics such as cephalosporins and azithromycin which have shown less resistance (WHO).
Also, an important note for individuals who have had typhoid before would be for them to get tested again even after undergoing a full course treatment to ensure there are no traces of Salmonella and Typhi bacteria left in the system and to avoid spreading it unknowingly.