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Typhoid Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Tests & Prevention

Typhoid Fever: Causes, Symptoms, Tests & Prevention

Max Lab

Jun 28, 2022

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Typhoid fever is a severe infection that can affect different organs. It is an acute ailment caused by a bacterium called Salmonella typhimurium (S. Typhi). A person gets affected by the bacteria through contaminated food or drinking water. Typhoid fever is common in different parts of the world where proper hygiene is lacking, and people have limited access to clean and safe water and food. Most cases of typhoid fever occur in returning travellers from affected countries that can pass on the infection to others. Here is everything to know about typhoid fever, including its symptomscauses, tests, and prevention.

Symptoms of Typhoid

It can take 6 to 30 days after contamination for typhoid fever symptoms to appear. While a high fever and rashes are the two most common symptoms, some other signs and symptoms of typhoid are:

If the infection is not treated immediately, the symptoms continue to get worse in a few weeks. It increases the risk of severe complications. It can also lead to a fatal condition called sepsis (bloodstream infection), and symptoms of this condition include severe abdominal pain, vomiting, and nausea.

Typhoid Causes

Typhoid fever is caused by the S. Typhi bacteria that spread through food and water contaminated with faeces and urine. When bacterias enter a person’s body, it swiftly multiplies and reaches the bloodstream. There are some risk factors that can increase the chances of typhoid fever. These are:

  • Coming in contact with an infected person
  • Living in unhygienic conditions
  • Frequent travelling to areas where typhoid is common
  • Working as a clinical microbiologist and handling Salmonella typhi bacteria

Is Typhoid Contagious?

Yes, it is contagious. An infected person can pass the bacteria without even experiencing any symptoms.

What are the Stages of Typhoid Fever?

There are four different stages of typhoid, and each one lasts for 5 to 7 days.

  • The First Stage

In this stage, the infected person is in the asymptomatic phase or may feel initial symptoms of typhoid such as headache, dry cough and indolence.

  • The Second Stage

At this stage, patients start developing clear symptoms, including high fever and stomach pain. Confusion and hallucinations are also common during the second stage.

  • The Third Stage

By the third phase, the bacteria have already started circulating in the blood. The patient develops a high fever, along with flu-like symptoms. He may also experience difficulty in walking, standing, or sitting up.

  • The Fourth Stage

The fourth stage of typhoid fever is related to an extremely high fever. There are many other health complications, such as kidney failure, severe infections, inflammation of the pancreas, or pneumonia. A long course of antibiotics is crucial for the patient to throw out the typhoid-causing bacteria from the body.

Diagnosis of Typhoid Fever

A diagnosis of typhoid is undertaken by identifying the presence of the typhoid-causing bacteria, Salmonella typhi, in the blood, urine, or stool samples. Also, a Typhi Dot test is performed to detect IgM antibodies against the bacteria. If the Typhi Dot IgM test result is positive, it means the person has an initial stage of infection. A bone marrow culture test, one of the sensitive tests, can also be prescribed by doctors but only for patients who have received antibiotics and do not experience any improvement in their condition.

Before the test, it is imperative for the patient to inform the doctor about recent travelling to an area where typhoid is common or getting exposed to someone who has the infection.

Typhoid Fever Treatment

Typhoid fever can generally be cured with a course of antibiotic medicines. While an infection can be easily treated at home, hospital admission may be required for those with severe symptoms of typhoid fever.

How Long does Typhoid Fever Last After Treatment?

The symptoms of typhoid fever may start diminishing within 2 to 4 weeks with proper treatment. However, bacteria may live in the body for a few months, and the person can spread the infection to others. The patients have to take further courses of antibiotics to remove the bacteria. It is recommended for the patients to avoid preparing or handling food until the typhoid test results show that they are free from bacteria.

Typhoid Fever Prevention

  • Get vaccinated against typhoid fever
  • Avoid drinking untreated water while travelling
  • Practice safe eating and drinking habits
  • Avoid eating raw fruits and vegetables without washing them properly
  • Practice frequent hand-washing with warm and soapy water

If left untreated, typhoid fever can be fatal, especially during the third and fourth stages of infection and beyond. It is vital to be aware of the symptoms and get tested early to start treatment on time.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's)

Typhoid fever is a serious illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. It is primarily transmitted through contaminated food and water, making it more prevalent in areas with poor sanitation.

Symptoms of typhoid include:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • General Malaise
  • Abdominal Pain 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea

Poor sanitation, consumption of contaminated food or water, close contact with infected individuals, and travel to high-risk areas are all common causes of typhoid fever. 



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