What is typhoid & how do you catch it?
Typhoid fever is most common in parts of the world with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. It’s a highly contagious bacterial infection that can affect the whole body, including many organs, and can be potentially fatal.
Salmonella typhi, the bacterium causing the infection, is related to the bacteria that cause salmonella food poisoning. It can be contracted through consuming food or drink that’s contaminated with a small amount of infected faeces or urine. Without quick treatment the infection can have serious complications that can be fatal, so it’s important to help protect yourself.
Typhoid is uncommon in the UK, most cases are from an infection being picked up whilst visiting countries such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Worldwide, children are at the most risk due to an under developed immune system. However, their symptoms are usually milder than in adults.
Signs & symptoms
Typhoid symptoms include:
• High temperature
• Stomach pain
• Constipation or diarrhoea
It’s important to get typhoid fever treated quickly. If the infection goes untreated it could cause complications and increase the risk of developing potentially fatal consequences. If you think you have some, or all of these symptoms during travel or on return to the UK, you should seek urgent medical attention. You should explain to the doctor treating you that you have travelled abroad.
If typhoid is diagnosed in the early stages you’re likely to be able to treat it with prescribed antibiotic tablets at home. If typhoid fever is left for any longer, it may require antibiotic injections in hospital. An estimated one in five people will die from the condition, and survivors may have complications caused by the infection.
The typhoid vaccination doesn’t offer 100 percent protection, so it’s important to practise safe food and water hygiene whilst following scrupulous hand hygiene measures. For example, only drink sealed bottled water or freshly boiled water, and where possible avoid any food that could be contaminated.
How long does the typhoid vaccination last?
The vaccination protects against typhoid for three years, however it’s important to understand the vaccine isn’t 100 percent effective. You should practise other good food and water hygiene measures to reduce your risk.