At Rite Aid, our customers' wellness is our top priority. And part of this responsibility is helping them avoid diseases like typhoid fever. Typhoid fever is caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. It is a life-threatening disease.
Typhoid fever is rare in industrialized nations like the U.S., Western Europe, Japan, Canada and Australia. About 5,700 cases of typhoid fever occur annually in the U.S. and up to 75% of these cases are contracted while traveling abroad. In the developing world, typhoid fever is still very common. Approximately 21.5 million people are affected each year. International travelers should take precautions before leaving their home country. U.S. residents traveling to Latin America, Asia and Africa are especially vulnerable.
How does Typhoid spread?
Typhoid fever is carried in a person's intestinal tract and bloodstream. The bacterium (Salmonella Typhi) lives only in human beings.
Typhoid fever can be acquired by consuming food or drinks that have been contaminated by Salmonella Typhi. This most often happens if food and drink have been handled by someone with the bacteria, or from contaminated drinking water or water used to wash foods. As a result, typhoid fever is much more prevalent in countries where washing hands is practiced less and sewage often contaminates the water supply.
When Salmonella Typhi bacteria are consumed, they multiply and are absorbed into the bloodstream. The results are fever and other symptoms of typhoid fever.
What are the symptoms of Typhoid Fever?
A consistent, elevated fever of 103° to 104°F (39° to 40°C) is a symptom of typhoid fever. A person may also experience a loss of appetite, stomach pains, headache and weakness. Sometimes a rash of flat, reddish spots will develop. Testing for Salmonella Typhi in blood or stool is the only way to diagnose typhoid fever.
How is Typhoid treated?
Typhoid fever can be treated with antibiotics. Without treatment, fever can last weeks to months and there is an increased risk of death from complications.
How is Typhoid prevented?
Typhoid fever is preventable. If you are traveling outside the U.S. protect yourself by taking these two basic steps:
- Do not consume questionable drinks or food
- Get vaccinated for typhoid fever
Being mindful of what you eat and drink while travelling abroad is as important as getting vaccinated for typhoid fever – mainly because the vaccine isn't always completely effective. Not consuming risky foods may also help you avoid other illnesses like: cholera, dysentery, traveler's diarrhea and Hepatitis A.
When traveling to parts of the world where the disease is more prevalent, consider getting immunized for typhoid fever.
To give the vaccine time to take effect, you should get immunized at least 1-2 weeks before you travel, depending on the vaccine. The vaccines for typhoid fever wear off after several years. If you have been immunized before, ask your doctor if you may need a booster shot.