What is typhoid fever?

Typhoid fever, also called enteric fever, is a contagious, potentially life-threatening bacterial infection. Typhoid fever is caused by the bacterium Salmonella enteric serotype Typhi (also known as Salmonella Typhi), which is carried by infected humans in the blood and digestive tract and spreads to others through food and drinking water contaminated with infected feces. Symptoms of typhoid fever include fever, rash, and abdominal pain.

Typhoid fever is a major international health threat regardless of age, race or background. An estimated 22 million cases of typhoid fever and 216,000 related deaths occur worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization (Source: WHO).

However, there are relatively few cases of typhoid fever reported in the United States. Most U.S. cases occur in people who have traveled to developing countries or continents where it is particularly prevalent, such as India, Southeast Asia, Africa, and South America.

Fortunately, typhoid fever is treatable, especially in its early stages, and a vaccine is available to help prevent the disease if you plan on living in or traveling to high-risk areas of the world.

To help prevent typhoid fever with vaccination, you should seek prompt medical care before traveling to developing countries and high-risk areas. You should also seek prompt medical care if you know you have been exposed to the disease, or if you have symptoms, such as diarrhea, abdominal pain, rash, and fever, especially after visiting high-risk areas. Early diagnosis and treatment reduce the risk for serious complications, such as peritonitis and kidney failure.

Seek immediate medical care (call 911) if you, or someone you know, have serious symptoms, such as severe abdominal pain, decreased or no urination, major rectal bleeding or bloody stool, or a change in alertness.

SYMPTOMS

What are the symptoms of typhoid fever?

Symptoms of typhoid fever usually develop five to 21 days following ingestion of food or water contaminated with Salmonella Typhi bacteria and can last up to a month or longer. Typical symptoms of typhoid fever include:

  • Abdominal pain and tenderness
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Difficulty concentrating
... Read more about typhoid feversymptoms

CAUSES

What causes typhoid fever?

Typhoid fever is caused by the bacterium Salmonella enteric serotype Typhi (Salmonella Typhi). Salmonella Typhi can enter and infect the body through ingestion of contaminated food and water. Food can become contaminated with the bacteria by being washed in contaminated water or by being touched by an infected person with unwashed hands. Drinking water can become contaminat... Read more about typhoid fevercauses

TREATMENTS

How is typhoid fever treated?

Typhoid fever is a treatable disease and can often be cured with a full course of antibiotics, such as ampicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, or ciprofloxacin. In some severe cases, treatment may require rehydration with intravenous fluids and electrolyte replacement therapy. With treatment, symptoms typically improve within two to four weeks. Symptoms may return if you have not been comple... Read more about typhoid fevertreatments

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS Last Annual Review Date: Sep 20, 2013 Copyright: © Copyright 2014 Health Grades, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Health Grades, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the HealthGrades User Agreement.

This Article is Filed Under: Infections and Contagious Diseases


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