What is typhoid fever?
Typhoid fever is an infection that is caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi. It is common in developing countries with poor sanitation and low standards of hygiene.
Your risk depends on several factors: destination, length of trip, and what activities you do. Risk is usually low for travellers going to areas with higher standards of accommodation and sanitation, and safe food handling practices.
In regions where typhoid occurs, your risk is higher if travelling to areas with poor sanitation and limited access to safe water and/or if you are visiting friends and relatives.
How is it transmitted?
- Typhoid is most often transmitted by eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with the feces of an infected person. Examples include:
- Eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected.
- Drinking water that has been contaminated with sewage.
- Eating shellfish taken from sewage-polluted areas, or eating raw fruits and vegetables, which may have been fertilized with human waste.
What are the symptoms?
- Symptoms usually appear one to three weeks after being infected.
- Some people develop no symptoms, while others may develop symptoms such as fever, headache, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, and loss of appetite.
- In more severe cases, symptoms may worsen and cause life threatening complications such as enlargement of the liver and spleen or intestinal bleeding.
Can typhoid fever be treated?
Typhoid fever can be treated with antibiotics.
The highest risk for typhoid fever among travellers is in South Asia although other areas of risk include Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Central and South America.
1. Practise safe food and water precautions
2. Wash your hands frequently
- Wash your hands with soap under warm running water for at least 20 seconds, as often as possible, including before eating or preparing food and after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
- Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. It’s a good idea to always keep some with you when you travel.
3. Get vaccinated
- Discuss the benefits of getting vaccinated with a health care provider before travelling if you are:
- travelling to countries where typhoid occurs.
- visiting areas where drinking water may be unsafe and poor sanitation and hygiene conditions exist.
4. Monitor your health
- If you develop symptoms similar to typhoid fever when you are travelling or after you return, see a health care provider and tell them where you have been travelling or living.
- Typhoid Fever, World Health Organization (WHO)