Typhoid: All you need to know about this bacterial infection

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Typhoid is a serious bacterial infection that can lead to high fever, diarrhoea and vomiting. It is caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria, passed on to humans through contaminated water or foods. Typhoid fever is highly contagious and can be passed on from an infected person to another by accidentally coming in contact with their poop (stools) or pee (urine), in a rare case. The disease can easily be treated with antibiotics when detected on time. If left untreated, it can even turn fatal, especially for children.

​Symptoms

The symptoms of typhoid start to appear a week or two after the infection. High fever for up to 104°F (39°C to 40°C) and rashes particularly on the neck and abdomen are the two most common symptoms of these infectious diseases. Other common signs may include:

Weakness

Stomach ache

Headache

Loss of appetite

Brain fogging

Constipation or diarrhoea

Muscle aches

Other symptoms

In rare cases, it can even lead to intestinal bleeding or perforations in the intestine. If left untreated for a long time, it can lead to serious complications, which may include:

Pneumonia

Kidney or bladder infection

Pancreatitis

Myocarditis

Endocarditis

Meningitis

Delirium, hallucinations, paranoid psychosis

​Causes

Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria, which belongs to the same family that causes a serious intestinal infection called salmonellosis. The bacteria can only be transferred by drinking or eating food and beverages contaminated with Salmonella typhi. Once being infected with the pathogen, one can spread it to others through the faecal route. The bacteria can survive for weeks in water or dried sewage.

Typhoid carriers

Even after antibiotic treatment, some infected people continue to harbour a small number of bacteria. These people are referred to as chronic carriers. They particularly may not show any signs or symptoms of infection, still shed the bacteria in their faeces, which can easily infect others. But this happens in a rare case. Only 3 to 5 per cent of people recovered from typhoid become carriers of the bacteria after the acute illness. They can be the source of new outbreaks for many years.

Prevention

The bacteria is spread through infected food and water. You must drink clean water, keep your surroundings clean and seek adequate medical help to prevent and control typhoid fever. Here are a few things you must practise regularly to prevent the bacterial infection.

Wash your hands properly: Wash your hands frequently, especially after touching contaminated surfaces, eating foods, preparing foods and coughing or sneezing. Cleaning your hands with soap and water or 70 per cent alcohol-based sanitizers for 30 seconds is the best way to control infection.

Avoid drinking untreated water: Drinking contaminated water is the common cause of typhoid infection. Always drink bottled water or purified water. If it is not possible then boil the water before drinking it.

Clean raw fruits and vegetables: There are high chances that raw products may have been washed in contaminated water. So, do not eat any raw vegetables or fruits without washing it. Bring them home and wash them properly in clean water and baking soda solution before eating or cooking.

Eat hot foods: Avoid consuming foods that are stored at room temperature. That’s because bacteria grow at a rapid speed in room temperature. Always prefer to eat hot food, even when you are out in a restaurant.

​Treatment

​Treatment

Once the traces of typhoid bacteria is confirmed in your body, the doctors often resort to antibiotic therapy to bring down the fever and tackle other symptoms. Antibiotics like Ciprofloxacin, Azithromycin and Ceftriaxone are prescribed on a usual basis. Besides, the patient is also recommended to drink plenty of fluid to prevent dehydration caused due to prolonged fever and diarrhoea.

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