Publications International, Ltd. The best defense against typhoid is frequent and thorough hand washing.

Preventing Typhoid

Typhoid fever bacteria are usually spread when food or water has been infected with S. typhi, most often through contact with the feces of an infected person. Once the typhoid bacteria enter the bloodstream, the body begins to mount a defense that causes a high fever (as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit), headache, stomach pains, weakness, and decreased appetite. Occasionally, people who have typhoid fever get a rash that looks like flat red spots.

Typhoid fever can be effectively treated with antibiotics. Once treatment begins, improvements start in a few days. Without treatment, the fever can continue for weeks or months, and the infection can lead to death.

The Culprit

The bacterium Salmonella typhi causes typhoid fever.

Who's at Risk?

The CDC gets about 400 reports of typhoid fever in the United States each year. However, an estimated 22 million people worldwide get the disease annually. The chances of contracting typhoid fever in the United States are very low; people who travel to developing countries where there is little or no water and sewage treatment or where hand washing is not a common practice are at the highest risk. Prime typhoid fever areas are in India, Asia (especially Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), Africa, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.

Defensive Measures

Because many people who carry typhoid fever appear perfectly healthy and may spread the disease unknowingly, taking extra precautions when you are traveling is essential.

  • Wash your hands well and often to prevent the possible spread of bacteria.
  • Refer to the travelers' diarrhea profile in this chapter to read the precautions for eating and drinking in developing countries.
  • If you are going to be in a country at high risk for typhoid fever or in a rural area where food choices may be limited, typhoid fever vaccines are available. Speak with your physician about getting one and refer to the CDC's Travelers' Health Web site at www.cdc.gov/travel for more information.
  • People who have had typhoid fever should not prepare food or drinks for anyone until their stool tests negative for the contagious bacteria.

Finally, you'll read about yellow fever, another disease that can be fatal if not treated soon after it is contracted. Carried by an infected mosquito, yellow fever only exists today in sub-Saharan Africa and South America. Jaundice, the yellowing of the skin and eyes, is the tell-tale sign of yellow fever.This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.