What is typhoid fever?
Typhoid fever is a serious bacterial infection caused by the Salmonella typhi bacterium. A similar infection called paratyphoid fever is caused by the Salmonella paratyphi bacterium.
Symptoms of typhoid fever
The most common symptoms of typhoid fever are diarrhea and a high fever that doesn't go away. Your fever may be as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit or 40 degrees Celsius.
Other symptoms include:
Causes of typhoid fever
Typhoid fever is only caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. The typhoid bacteria multiply and spread through contaminated food and water. After you are infected, it can take one to three weeks for symptoms to start.
Some people become carriers of typhoid and shed the bacteria in their feces for years after they were first infected.
In fact, people who work in certain professions must have negative stool tests following their typhoid infection before they can legally return to work. This includes:
- Childcare workers
- Anyone who handles food
- Healthcare workers
Those who have had typhoid fever can get it again if they are re-exposed to the bacteria.
When travelling abroad in areas where typhoid fever is common, be sure to get vaccinated. To further lower the risk of contracting the disease:
- Drink only sealed, bottled, or treated water
- Don't eat raw fruits and vegetables
- Don't eat foods from street vendors
Who can get typhoid fever?
Anyone can get typhoid fever. However, this bacterium is not common in industrialized countries. It is more common in developing countries. Many cases in industrialized nations are brought back from travelers to other areas.
Vaccines are available for people traveling abroad to areas with a higher risk of contracting typhoid fever.
Diagnosis for typhoid fever
Only a licensed healthcare professional can diagnose typhoid fever. The only way for your doctor to diagnose typhoid fever is through a blood or stool test to verify the presence of the bacteria.
Your doctor will give you this test if you have symptoms of typhoid fever or were exposed to someone who recently had the infection.
Treatments for typhoid fever
Doctors treat typhoid fever with antibiotics. However, in some parts of the world strains of typhoid fever have become resistant to most antibiotics. Doctors and researchers must continually track which antibiotics continue to offer effective treatment.
Dehydration from diarrhea is common with typhoid fever. So, you need to drink plenty of water and beverages with electrolytes. Your doctor may give you electrolyte packets to help with this.
If your condition worsens and you have to go to the hospital, doctors may give you intravenous (IV) hydration.
Complications and side effects of typhoid fever
Some people have allergic reactions to certain antibiotics. With antibiotic resistant strains, there may only be a few options for treatment.
If you are allergic to these antibiotics, it may be rather difficult to find effective medicine that you can take safely.
However, the main risk with typhoid fever is not receiving any medical treatment. One out of five people who don’t get treatment for typhoid fever die.
The risk of complications also grows if the treatment is delayed. Complications that can develop in untreated cases of typhoid fever include:
- Intestinal bleeding
- Intestinal perforation
- Kidney failure
For this reason, if you have symptoms of typhoid fever, you should seek immediate medical attention. This is especially true if you have recently traveled to an area where there is a higher risk of contracting the disease.
- Attachment Theory: What It Is, Stages & the Different Attachment Styles
- Gentle Parenting: What It Is, Techniques & Discipline
- U.S. Nursing Homes Fail to Report Many Serious Falls, Bedsores: Study
- The Younger You Get Diabetes, the Higher Your Risk for Dementia Later
- FDA Grants Full Approval to Paxlovid to Treat COVID-19
- More Health News »
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Cureus: "The Implications of Extensive Drug-resistant Typhoid Fever: A Case Report."
Mayo Clinic: "Typhoid fever."
New York State Department of Health: "Typhoid Fever."
Top What Is the Best Treatment for Typhoid Fever Related Articles
artesunateArtesunate is a medication administered intravenously to treat serious malaria, a disease with high fevers, shaking chills, and flu-like illness, in adults and children. Common side effects of artesunate in patients with severe malaria include low red blood cell count (anemia), low platelet count (thrombocytopenia), high count of leukocyte immune cells (leukocytosis), low count of neutrophil immune cells (neutropenia), low count of lymphocyte immune cells (lymphopenia), elevation of liver enzymes (transaminases), high bilirubin levels in blood (hyperbilirubinemia), jaundice, acute renal failure requiring dialysis, and others. Consult your doctor if pregnant or breastfeeding.
chloramphenicolChloramphenicol is a synthetic broad-spectrum antibiotic used to treat severe systemic infections, including bacterial meningitis, bacterial blood infection (bacteremia), typhoid fever, Rickettsial infections, and exacerbation of cystic fibrosis. Common side effects of chloramphenicol include bone marrow depression, blood disorders (including anemia), headache, confusion, delirium, depression, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and others. Avoid use in nursing mothers; discontinue either the drug or nursing. Consult your doctor if pregnant.
Mono (Infectious Mononucleosis)Infectious mononucleosis is a virus infection in which there is an increase of white blood cells that are mononuclear (with a single nucleus) "Mono" and "kissing disease" are popular terms for this very common illness caused by the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV).
Travel Health SlideshowExplore travel health tips and vaccines to prevent disease while abroad. Learn to protect yourself against malaria, hepatitis, tetanus and more by learning which vaccines or health precautions are advised for your destination.
Travel MedicineTravelers should prepare for their trip by visiting their physician to get the proper vaccinations and obtain the necessary medication if they have a medical condition or chronic disease. Diseases that travelers may pick up from contaminated water or food, insect or animal bites, or from other people include:
- meningococcal meningitis,
- yellow fever,
- hepatitis A,
- typhoid fever,
- polio, and
Traveler's DiarrheaTraveler's diarrhea is generally contracted by eating contaminated food or drinking contaminated water. Food is the primary source of traveler's diarrhea. Enterotoxigenic E. coli is the cause of up to 70% of all cases of traveler's diarrhea. There are five unique classes of E. coli that causes gastroenteritis. Other bacteria responsible for traveler's diarrhea include Campylobacter, jejuni, shigella, and salmonella. Viruses such as rotavirus and Norwalk virus (norovirus) and giardia lamblia a parasite may cause traveler's diarrhea. Prevention is careful eating and drinking of water.
Typhoid FeverTyphoid fever is an illness caused by the Salmonella typhi bacteria. The illness is contracted by ingesting the bacteria in contaminated water or food. Symptoms include headaches, fever, diarrhea, lethargy, aches and pains, and poor appetite. Treatment focuses on killing the Salmonella bacteria with antibiotics.
What Causes Typhoid Fever?Typhoid fever is a serious bacterial infection. Learn more about typhoid fever, its symptoms, your treatment options, and possible complications.