Typhoid: A Global Disease

What It Is

Typhoid causes fever with body temperatures reaching as high as 104° F. Typhoid is known by various names such as enteric fever, bilious fever  or Yellow Jack. The bacteria responsible for typhoid is Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi. Typhoid is transmitted by intake of food or water contaminated by feces of typhoid patient. The temperature most conducive for bacteria’s growth is 37° C which is normal body temperature.
Typhoid fever is characterized by a sustained fever as high as 40°C , profuse sweating, gastroenteritis and bloodless  diarrhea. Less commonly typhoid may be accompanied by a rash of flat, rose-colored spots.


The key to prevention of most of diseases, including typhoid, are sanitation and hygiene. Since animals are not affected by typhoid, it is only humans who can act as agents for transmission of typhoid. Let’s not forget that typhoid spreads when human feces or urine are able to come into contact with food or drinking water. Careful food preparation and washing of hands are therefore crucial to preventing typhoid. Vaccines too are available for prevention of typhoid. Chlorination of water help in checking transmission of  typhoid. Avoid foods and beverages from street vendors. It is difficult for food to be kept clean on the street, and many travelers get sick from food bought from street vendors.


Flying insects feeding on feces may occasionally transfer the bacteria through poor hygiene habits and public sanitation conditions. Public education campaigns encouraging people to wash their hands after toileting and before handling food are an important component in controlling spread of the disease. According to the Centers for disease control, approximately 5% of people who contract typhoid continue to carry the disease after they recover.


Rarely is the typhoid fever fatal. Antibiotics such as ampicillin, chloramphenicol, trimethoprim-sulfamethosazole and ciprofloxacin are commonly used to treat typhoid in developed countries. Prompt treatment of the disease with antibiotics reduces the case-fatality rate to approximately 1%.