What Is Typhoid Fever?
Typhoid fever, also known as enteric fever, is a bacterial infection affecting mainly the intestines. People can get it from contaminated food, water, ice, eggs, and undercooked meat.
Also, people who have or carry the bacteria can spread them to others when they handle food without properly washing their hands after using the bathroom.
Typhoid fever is more common in countries without purified water systems. There are about 20 million cases of typhoid fever worldwide yearly, but only about 300 in the United States. There are higher incidence in developing countries like Nepal & India .
Treated, the infection is usually curable in 2 to 3 weeks. Untreated, it can be fatal, especially in children.
What Causes Typhoid Fever?
The kind of bacteria named Salmonella typhi cause the disease. Eating or drinking something contaminated with Salmonella spreads the illness. Sources include raw shellfish, especially oysters, raw fruits and vegetables, water, and milk. People with weakened immune (infectionfighting) systems have increased risk for typhoid fever.
What Are the Symptoms of Typhoid Fever?
Symptoms can begin 5 to 21 days after exposure to bacteria. The most common symptoms are fever, bellyache, rose-colored rash, chills, headache, loss of appetite, exhaustion, vomiting, and constipation (more common than diarrhea at the start).
How Is Typhoid Fever Diagnosed?
The doctor makes a diagnosis from a medical history (including travel abroad) and physical examination. Tests of blood, stools (bowel movements), and urine are done to look for bacteria. Other tests, including x-rays, may be needed to exclude other diseases causing similar symptoms.
How Is Typhoid Fever Treated?
People should rest until symptoms go away. Then activity can slowly increase. For diarrhea,
increase fluid intake and don’t eat solid foods. As symptoms go away, a well-balanced, highcalorie diet can be started. The doctor will prescribe antibiotics. Hospitalization and intravenous fluids may be needed in severe infection. If possible, use a separate bathroom. Otherwise, scrub the toilet with gloves and a bleach solution after each use. Hand washing is critical to prevent disease spread.
Don’t use aspirin or aspirin products for fever. They can irritate the intestines. Instead, use acetaminophen and tepid sponge baths.
It can take 3 to 6 months for the infection to completely go away. Stool tests are done weekly.
Negative tests 3 weeks in a row mean that the infection is gone.
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