Typhoid fever, commonly known as typhoid is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria, Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi). People get infected by ingestion of food or water contaminated by stool or urine of infected person.

The bacteria multiply in the digestive tract and spread into the bloodstream. In severe infections, which can be life threatening, bleeding or perforated intestine wall can happen. Without prompt treatment, it can cause serious complications and can be fatal.

After recovering from typhoid fever, a small number of people can become carriers. A carrier is a person with no symptom but continues to carry the bacteria and can potentially infect others.

How typhoid spread

• Food outlets that practice poor hygiene.
• Using a toilet contaminated with bacteria and not washing your hands.
• Eating raw vegetables or fruits that have been contaminated by bacteria S.Typhi.
• Eating seafood from a water source contaminated by infected faeces or urine.
• Flies may spread the bacteria from stool to food.
• Those infected also can pass the disease onto others directly (for example, by touching them with unwashed hands).
• Contaminated food or water supply, especially after floods or natural disasters.

Signs & Symptoms
Symptoms may vary from mild to severe and usually begin 8 to 14 days after exposure.

• Fever
• Loss of appetite
• Headache
• Weakness
• Constipation or diarrhoea
• Abdominal pain
• Rash on the chest or abdomen

Treatment
Typhoid is treatable and there are vaccines to prevent it. Treatment includes antibiotics and supportive care of symptoms.

Prevention
Sanitation and hygiene are the critical measures that can be taken to prevent typhoid.

• Washing hands frequently and thoroughly using soap and water or hand sanitizer.
• Always wash hands before preparing food, eating or drinking and after using toilet.
• Eat well cooked and freshly prepared food.
• Drink only boiled or bottled water.
• Wash vegetables and fruits with clean water before eating.
• Use clean utensils to take and serve food.
• Cover food and drinks to prevent flies.
• Maintain surrounding cleanliness to avoid flies infestation.
• Choose clean stall or restaurant.
• Food handlers must be vaccinated against typhoid fever.
• Food handlers should practice good personal hygiene, including washing hands and ensuring food safety and cleanliness.
• Infected persons and carriers are prohibited from working with food.
• Vaccination for those who are at high risk of exposure, including people travelling to areas where the disease is common.
• People who travel to areas where typhoid is common should avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables.
• Maintain cleanliness and proper sanitation especially after flood or natural disaster.

Personal hygiene should be a priority, especially washing your hands before and after eating and after you go to toilet. Get early treatment if you suspect you have typhoid fever.

References:
1. https://www.iamat.org/country/malaysia/risk/typhoid-fever
2. http://www.myhealth.gov.my/index.php/en/prime-years/food-safety/food-a-water-borne-disease
3. http://www.who.int/topics/typhoid_fever/en/
4. http://www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/typhoid_fever/
5. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/typhoid-fever/basics/definition/con-20028553
6. http://mypositiveparenting.org/2015/10/27/typhoid-facing-the-fever/
7. http://kidshealth.org/parent/infections/stomach/typhoid.html

*This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment from a health care provider. Like any printed material, it may become out-of-date over time.

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