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Typhoid fever is an illness caused by the bacterium "Salmonella Typhi". It can also be caused by "Salmonella paratyphi", it is a related bacterium that usually causes a less severe illness. It is transmitted by the ingestion of food or water contaminated with feces from an infected person. Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness and is still common in the developing world, where it affects about 21.5 million persons each year. Typically, children have milder disease and fewer complications than adults. It can be prevented and treated with antibiotics.

Alternative Names of Typhoid fever: Enteric fever, Bilious fever or Yellow Jack

Possible Complications due to typhoid fever:

  • Intestinal hemorrhage
  • Intestinal perforation
  • Kidney failure
  • Peritonitis

Causes of Typhoid fever
Salmonella typhi are spread by:

  • Contaminated food, drink, or water.
  • Contamination of the water supply which taint the food supply.
  • Directly through mouth
  • Elderly women with chronic gallbladder disease also are carriers of the typhoid bacteria.
  • Flies that have landed on infected feces, then on food that is later eaten.
  • Infected people through their urine and stool.
  • Open sewage
  • Patients with acute illness who can contaminate the surrounding water supply through stool, which contains a high concentration of the bacteria.
  • People who uses the bathroom and doesn't wash his or her hands well and then directly prepares or serves food.
  • Some patients suffer a very mild illness that goes unrecognized.
  • The bacteria which can survive for weeks in water or dried sewage.
  • The bacterium which multiplies in the gallbladder, bile ducts, or liver and passes into the bowel.
  • The hepatic duct or through the bloodstream.
  • Those people who have recovered from typhoid fever continue to be carriers of the bacteria, although they have no symptoms, and can still pass the disease on to others.

Signs & Symptoms of Typhoid fever
Early symptoms are generalized and include fever, malaise and abdominal pain. After an incubation period of 10 to 14 days, the bacteria overcome the cells and enter the bloodstream. Then the small and large intestine become inflamed and following symptoms appear:

  • Abdominal Pain
  • Agitation
  • Bloody stools
  • Chills
  • Diarrhea
  • Delirium
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Nosebleed
  • Severe headache
  • Weakness

Diagnosis of Typhoid fever
Diagnosis is made by blood, bone marrow or stool cultures. After the ingestion of contaminated food or water, the Salmonella bacteria invade the small intestine and enter the bloodstream temporarily. The bacteria pass into the intestinal tract and can be identified for diagnosis in cultures from the stool tested in the laboratory. There is following tests through which Typhoid fever can be diagnosed:

Possible tests are:

  • Blood Test: Blood culture during first week of the fever can show S. typhi bacteria
  • Platelet count: A decreased platelet
  • Stool Test: A stool culture can be helpful to find  S typhi bacteria
  • Urine Test: Urine test may show Vi antigen specific for the bacteria

Preventions of Typhoid fever

  • Sanitation and hygiene are the critical measures that can be taken to prevent typhoid.
  • Careful food preparation and washing of hands are therefore crucial to preventing typhoid.
  • Infected people are cared for in isolation.

You may follow following three actions to protect from typhoid fever:

  • Avoid foods and drinks that you may think may be contaminated.
  • Avoid eating things that have been kept in the open for long time.
  • Get vaccinated against typhoid fever.

Treatments of Typhoid fever
Typhoid fever in most cases is not fatal.

  • Antibiotics, such as Ampicillin, Chloramphenicol, Trimethoprim-Sulfamethoxazole, and Ciprofloxacin, have been commonly used to treat typhoid fever.
  • Steroid medicines are also included in the treatment.

When left untreated, Typhoid fever persists for 3-4 weeks. 10 - 30% of untreated cases results to Death.

When to seek Medical Advice
If you have had any known exposure to typhoid fever immidiately call your health care provider. Call your health care provider if you have had typhoid fever and relapse occurs or if you develop any symptoms of Typhoid fever like:

  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Decreased urine output or
  • Any other serious symptoms etc.

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