Typhoid Fever

Typhoid fever is an infection that causes diarrhea and a rash. It is most commonly due to a type of bacterium called Salmonella typhi (S. typhi). According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) almost 21.5 million people in developing countries contract typhoid each year.

CAUSES

Typhoid is one of the most common communicable diseases in India that is caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. Also called as enteric fever or typhoid fever, it spreads easily through contaminated water, unhygienic food and drinks.
The bacterium is carried by the infected people in their intestine and bloodstream and it passes through the urine and feces. The infection is usually spread when sewage water gets mixed with drinking water and it is consumed or when an individual consumes any food or water handled by an infected person.

SYMPTOMS

It usually takes 1 to 3 weeks time for patients to develop typhoid symptoms after exposure to the bacteria. The duration of the disease is 3 to 4 weeks depending upon the severity of the disease (mild or severe) with the normal incubation time is 7 to 14 days. The symptoms are:

  • Headaches
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • High fever (103 degree F)
  • Lethargy
  • Poor appetite
  • Enlarged spleen & liver
  • Rose-colored spots on the chest
  • Chest congestion
  • Abdominal pain
  • Fatigue
  • Chills
  • Generalized pain and weakness

Here is a detailed information on seven warning symptoms of typhoid.

DIAGNOSIS

Your medical professional will conduct a thorough physical examination to look out for the symptoms and based on it the clinical tests required to undergo will be recommended. Also, a detailed travel as well as medical history will be conducted by your doctor to assess your exposure to the bacteria.

  • CBC– If you are suffering from the disease, your complete blood count will show an increased white blood cell (WBC) count.
  • Blood culture – Blood culture done during the initial phase of the disease (in the first week) shows S. typhi bacteria.
  • ELISA – A recent diagnostic test, ELISA urine test is done to look out for the bacteria causing the disease.
  • Fluorescent antibody study – In this study, any substances that are specific to the bacterium are looked for.
  • Platelet Count – Platelet count in case of the person affected by the disease is usually low.
  • Stool culture – It is done to determine the presence of the bacterium in the feces.

TREATMENT

Antibiotics such as ciproflaxin or ceftriaxone are generally prescribed to kill the bacteria. However, long-term use of these drugs have made some of the bacteria antibiotic-resistant and hence, your medical professional will go through current options before choosing one.

Additional treatment options include drinking lots of fluids (uncontaminated ones) to keep one hydrated and having diet rich in nutrients.

COMPLICATIONS

Possible complications that may result include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Severe GI bleeding
  • Intestinal perforation
  • Peritonitis

PREVENTION

Typhoid can be easily prevented by following some simple tips:

  • Ensuring proper hygiene and sanitation will definitely shield you against getting infected by the bacteria.
  • Persistent hand washing to keep the bacteria at bay.
  • Careful preparation of food as the bacteria spreads with feces coming in contact with drinking water and food.
  • Consume hot and fresh foods as high temperature hinders the growth of bacteria.
  • Avoid eating raw veggies and fruits & also drinking untreated or contaminated water.
  • Keep all your household items (especially in the kitchen) properly clean and sanitized.
  • In case you are travelling to any part of the world that put you at high risk of getting infected with typhoid then vaccination is the best option available.
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