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What is typhoid fever? What is the history of typhoid fever?

Typhoid fever is an acute infectious illness associated with fever that is most often caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria. It can also be caused by Salmonella paratyphi, a related bacterium that usually leads to a less severe illness. The bacteria are deposited through fecal contamination in water or food by a human carrier and are then spread to other people in the area. Typhoid fever is rare in industrial countries but continues to be a significant public-health issue in developing countries.

The incidence of typhoid fever in the United States has decreased since the early 1900s. Today, approximately 5,700 cases are reported annually in the United States, mostly in people who recently have traveled to endemic areas. This is in comparison to the 1920s, when over 35,000 cases were reported in the U.S., with a 20% fatality rate.

Several outbreaks in the New York City area in the early 1900s were caused by a healthy carrier referred to as Typhoid Mary (her real name was Mary Mallon), who was infected, worked as a cook, and repeatedly spread the disease to others.

The decrease in cases in the United States is the result of improved environmental sanitation, vaccination, and treatment with antibiotics. Mexico and South America are the most common areas for U.S. citizens to contract typhoid fever. India, Pakistan, and Egypt are also known high-risk areas for developing this disease. Worldwide, typhoid fever affects more than 21 million people annually, with over 200,000 patients dying of the disease.

If traveling to endemic areas, you should consult with your health care professional and discuss if you should receive vaccination for typhoid fever.

Return to Typhoid Fever

See what others are saying

Comment from: Mrs Agrawal, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: August 19

It started with mild fever off and on during the course of the day. Often the rise in temperature would take place in late evening and would go off after some hours, again in the midnight it would hit with severe pain in the forehead part at around 3:00 to 4:00 at night. In the morning I would start feeling better so went for work. During the day I had at times uneasiness, dizziness, nausea, and mild fever. I took antibiotics but it didn't work and fever became recurrent. I did blood test for MP (metabolic panel) and Widal and was diagnosed with typhoid after suffering for one month. I was treated and I got rid of the disease and now after about 11 months I have been again diagnosed with the disease.

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Comment from: G kaler, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: July 08

I had a typhoid fever attack this New Year when I was busy shopping for my marriage. One day I felt hot flushes, my energy dropped, and I was feeling so tired. My uncle who is a doctor prescribed some blood tests. My blood reports showed that I was suffering from typhoid, then my uncle prescribed me some antibiotics for 7 days. On the day of my marriage I had 100 degrees fever. And now after six months it has come back and again I'm on antibiotics. I can't take my daily meal properly, I feel nausea and have bladder disturbance also. Really, this typhoid freaked me out.

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Comment from: Jazzie, 25-34 Female (Patient) Published: June 28

I also suffered from typhoid fever. I just got out of the hospital where I was treated. This is the 5th time that I was diagnosed with this disease. First week symptoms are headache, lethargy, blurred vision, nausea, and muscle pains. I could not stand for two days and my head hurt like hell. I had no fever so I never suspected it was typhoid again. I am already a carrier of this disease so I'm really careful with my ways not to infect others. This disease had evolved and no fever had been involved in my case but I felt feverish. Body temperature ranges from 35 to 36.8 degree Celsius.

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