What is Typhoid Fever?
Typhoid fever is a systemic infection caused by Salmonella enteric serotype Typhi (S. Typhi). The disease remains an important public health problem in developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), typhoid fever is most commonly found in Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. S typhi has been a major human pathogen for thousands of years, thriving in conditions of poor sanitation, crowding, and social chaos. The name S typhi is derived from the ancient Greek typhos, an ethereal smoke or cloud that was believed to cause disease and madness.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
For the first week, victims typically associated with typhoid infection, include these symptoms:
- Malaise and weakness
- Continuous dull headache
- Flu-like body aches and pain
- Persistent high fever
- Nose bleeds (rare)
- Mild abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- A fever
- A slower than normal pulse
Intestinal bleeding that occurs in typhoid fever isn’t life-threatening but can make you feel very unwell with symptoms feeling tired all the time, breathlessness, pale skin, irregular heartbeat and vomiting blood. Blood transfusion may be required to replace lost blood and surgery can be used to repair the site of the bleeding
Another complication may include perforation of the digestive system or bowel, which spreads the infection to nearby tissue. Perforation is potentially a very serious complication because of the bacteria can move into your stomach and infect the lining of the abdomen leading to Peritonitis. Peritonitis is a medical emergency because the infection can rapidly spread into the blood (sepsis) before spreading to other organs. This carries the risk of multiple organ failure. If it isn’t treated properly, it may result in death.
When to seek medical help?
If you experience headache, high temperature (fever), abdominal pain, cough or diarrhea, you should seek medical advice immediately.
This is the case even if you have been vaccinated against Typhoid Fever as vaccination doesn’t guarantee complete protection.
To help diagnose your condition, your doctor will want to know if:
- You have travelled to parts of the world where the infection is present
- You have been in close contact with someone who has travelled to these areas (Africa, Southeast Asia and South America)
- Antibiotic therapy for the first 48-72 hours
- Rehydration. Intravenous fluid intake with electrolytes
Be aware if you and your family have travelled to an area known to have a high risk of Typhoid infections or have been in a situation with poor hygiene.
Maintain a good standard of hygiene:
- Try to stay hydrated, drink at least 2 liters of this liquid a day
- Eat a bland (not spicy) low-fat diet
- World Health Organization
- PubMed Health
- The JAMA Network
- NHS Choices