Typhoid is a bacterial disease and is considered to be one of the prime contagious diseases in the world. Caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi, it is transmitted by intake of contaminated food or water. This contamination of food or drinking water is mainly due to faeces or urine of people who are already infected. Typhoid is also known by various other names like abdominal typhus, gastric fever, slow fever, nervous fever, pythogenic fever, infantile remittant fever, suette milliaire, etc.
The disease is common in countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and thousands of people every year succumb to it. Typhoid is common in places with poor hygiene and sanitation facilities.
Usually, symptoms start showing between one to three weeks after exposure to contaminated food or water, and these symptoms can be either mild or severe in nature. Typhoid can often be mistaken with pneumonia, as the patient suffers from bronchitis. The common symptoms of typhoid are:
- High fever (103-104º F). Temperature usually rises in the evening and falls in the morning.
- Poor appetite
- General aches & pains
- Abdominal pain
- Lethargy & weakness
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Pink or red spots on the chest
- Enlargement of spleen and liver
- Main factors responsible for the infection are poor sanitation, intake of water and milk contaminated with the bacteria.
- Consumption of contaminated food.
- Irregular or wrong dietary habits and faulty lifestyle can lead to accumulation of toxic waste in the body, which may cause typhoid fever.
- This disease can be common in people who eat meat and fleshy foods.
- Gastrointestinal bleeding / intestinal haemorrhage
- Intestinal perforation
- Kidney failure
- Peritonitis (inflammation in the tissues that line the wall of abdomen)
Typhoid can be fatal if not treated in the right way and at the right time. Following treatments should be given to the patients to avoid severe conditions:
- Vaccination: Two vaccines recommended by the World Health Organisation are: live and oral Ty21a vaccine and injectable Typhoid polysaccharide vaccine. Both these vaccine have been proved 50% to 80% effective and are strongly recommended for travellers and people who dwell in places where there are frequent cases of the infection.
- Complete bed-rest is advisable
- Patient should be given sufficient fluids, juices or electrolytes, orally or intravenously.
Prevention of Typhoid Fever
Various measures can be taken to ensure consumption of healthy food and drinking water.
- Maintenance of hygiene
- Consumption of filtered of boiled water
- Proper sanitation, as the main reason of typhoid is urine and faeces coming in contact with food or water.
- Washing hands with disinfectants after going to the toilet.
- Proper disposal of sewage.
- Pasteurization of milk
- Avoid consuming raw food.
- People who make or serve food on street side or in the restaurants should wear gloves to avoid the spread of infection.