Typhoid Fever - Symptoms, Risk factors and Treatment

Typhoid fever, also known as enteric fever, is the infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi or Salmonella enterica. It can also be caused by another bacterium that causes relatively less illness, known as Salmonella paratyphi. It is a rare disease in well-developed countries. But in underdeveloped countries, it still does prevail. It is transferred from human carriers to the food and water, from where it can be transmitted to another human. 


If left untreated, typhoid can become life-threatening, especially for children. Globally, more than 21 million people are still affected by typhoid fever annually, and about 200,000 of them die from it.

Typhoid can be treated with antibiotics. Vaccines can also help prevent it. However, they are reserved for those who are traveling to areas where typhoid is prevalent. 



Symptoms 


The signs and symptoms of typhoid fever develop gradually over a period of three weeks. The early symptoms may show up as;


  • Fever that develops gradually and may turn into high-grade fever- a body temperature up to 104.9 F

  • Headache

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss

  • Stomach pain

  • Diarrhea or constipation

  • Rash

  • Weakness and fatigue

  • Muscle aches

  • Sweating

  • Dry cough

  • Extremely swollen stomach


If left untreated, it may show the following symptoms;


Confusion and delirium 

Typhoid state- a person lie motionless and exhausted with eyes half-closed



Causes 


Typhoid is caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi or Salmonella enterica. It can also be caused by another bacterium that causes relatively less illness, known as Salmonella paratyphi. It is transferred from human carriers to the food and water, from where it can be transmitted to another human.



The route of transmission of typhoid can be;


Fecal oral route


People who get infected by Salmonella typhi or Salmonella paratyphi may spread it to others through the fecal-oral route. It means their feces contain bacteria. If they do not wash their hands properly with soap after using the toilet, they can transmit it to someone else. It can happen, especially if the infected person cooks or touches the food with infected hands. Therefore, to prevent it, you must wash your hands before cooking and after using the toilet. It may happen that you may not have any symptoms of typhoid, but still, you are infected. Mostly, it also spreads due to drinking contaminated water. 



Carriers


Even after completing the antibiotic course, some people may still have some bacterial load in their body which can occur in feces- known as chronic carriers, who do not have any symptoms of typhoid. But still, they can spread it to other people. 



Risk factors 


The major risk factor for getting typhoid is if you live in an area where it is prevalent. There are huge chances that you get it from drinking contaminated water or eating contaminated food. However, if you live in the places where overall prevalence of typhoid is low, you are at risk if;


  • You travel or work in areas where typhoid fever is prevalent

  • You work as a microbiologist and handle Salmonella typhi samples 

  • You have been in close contact with someone who has been recently diagnosed with typhoid or has recovered soon

  • Drink contaminated water


Complications 


Typhoid, if left untreated, can lead to intestinal holes- a life-threatening condition. Usually, this condition develops after three weeks of infection. Due to the development of a hole in the intestine, the content may leak into the stomach and cause;


  • Severe stomach pain 

  • Nausea 

  • Vomiting 

  • Sepsis 


Prevention 


To prevent typhoid, practice the following measures;


  • Wash hands after using the toilet

  • Wash hands before cooking or touching food

  • Drink clean water. It is better to boil it before drinking

  • Cook food under proper hygienic conditions 

  • Avoid eating uncooked food, especially when dining out

  • Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables

  • Get yourself vaccinated if you live in areas where typhoid is prevalent.


Conclusion 


Typhoid fever, also known as enteric fever, is the infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi or Salmonella enterica. It spreads through drinking contaminated water or eating food. To treat it, the healthcare providers prescribe antibiotics. Moreover, to prevent it, vaccines are also available.


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