Enteric fever, commonly known as Typhoid, contains the bacteria Salmonella typhi. It results in food poisoning.
The infection spreads through contaminated food and water. You can also get the disease if you come in close contact with someone suffering from typhoid. Poor sanitation also causes this life-threatening disease.
Most cases of this disease occur in developing nations. However, industrialized countries like the U.S. also report severe cases. According to the recent findings, approx. 21 million cases of enteric fever occur worldwide. Therefore, you must take special care when travelling to areas where typhoid is prevalent.
More About Typhoid
India has the highest number of typhoid cases. However, the number of cases has decreased in the last few years.
Typhoid fever spreads commonly during the rainy season. Polluted water is one of the major causes which contributes to this water-borne disease. Children are at higher risks. However, their symptoms are less severe than in grown-ups.
Another biggest risk factor is traveling to areas like the Middle East, Europe, South, and Central America. In rare cases, severe typhoid infection can lead to death.
Types of typhoid
Salmonella falls under two groups:
- Typhoidal Salmonella, which is bacterial strains. It gives rise to typhoid fever or paratyphoid fever, including Salmonella typhi, Paratyphi A, B, and C.
- Non-typhoidal Salmonella, which has all other Salmonella strains.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Typhoid?
Loss of appetite, constant weakness, headache, and body pain is common. Constipation, diarrhea, and vomiting develop gradually. Some common signs of enteric fever are:
· Loss of appetite
· Abdominal ailments
Many times, people carry the bacteria but do not show these signs. The symptoms develop gradually and often show up after 1-3 weeks. Some people carry the bacteria but do not get affected. They are asymptomatic carriers with no symptoms or signs.
If you feel any of these signs, consult your doctor quickly.
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Which part of the body does the typhoid fever attack?
Typhoid is a bacterial infection. It does not just affect one organ, but multiple organs of the body. After reaching the bloodstream, the bacteria attack the gastrointestinal tract, including the liver, spleen, and muscles. Sometimes, the liver and spleen also swell. Bacteria can also reach the gallbladder, lungs, and kidneys through the blood.
The most well-known symptoms are fever and rashes on the body. Patients also experience high body temperature during the initial stage. Light red spots on the neck and abdomen also show the development of enteric fever.
When to See A Doctor?
Once you suspect you have typhoid fever, see a doctor immediately. Your doctor will diagnose and treat your illness wisely. To avoid complications, set up an appointment immediately after you have returned from a trip.
If you experience mild or severe symptoms, do not hesitate and reach out to your physician at the earliest.
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How to Diagnose Typhoid Fever?
Typhoid diagnosis involves:
· Testing antibodies against Salmonella typhi
· Laboratory tests to check fever
· Blood, stool, and urine samples
· Bone marrow testing
· Blood culture
The diagnosis is primarily clinical. But the most common techniques are using a stool sample or blood test. Tell your doctor if you have traveled recently. This will help identify the disease properly and at the right time to prevent complications.
On average, 3%-5% of patients become carriers of the bacteria after diagnosis.
What are the Causes of Typhoid Fever?
Typhoid fever is a severe intestinal infection. It may be caused in the following ways:
Fecal-oral transmission route
This includes a lack of proper sanitation and poor hygiene practices. In humans, water-borne diseases are the carriers. Fecal contamination also occurs through food, water, and direct contact.
In developing countries, where enteric fever is endemic, most infections originate from drinking contaminated water. Travelers spread the disease through a fecal-oral route.
So, the bacteria responsible passes in the feces. It also stays in the urine of infected people. You can also catch the infection if you get in contact with someone suffering from typhoid fever.
There are some patients who, even after recovery, carry the disease in their intestinal tracts or gall bladders for quite some time. These carriers shed bacteria in the feces, causing infection to other people.
What are the Risk Factors for Typhoid?
Typhoid is a serious illness affecting millions of people around the world every year. Children are at higher risk of this disease.
Listed below are the risk factors that increase the chances of infection.
· Unhygienic living conditions
· Poor sanitation
· Frequent traveling to affected areas
· Coming in contact with a person suffering from typhoid
· Touch to a flying insect feeding feces
To avoid typhoid infection, we advise you to stay away from the risks given above.
However, if you still get an infection, contact your doctor for timely diagnosis and treatment.
What are the Complications Associated with Typhoid Fever?
Complications occur in patients who do not undergo the proper antibiotic course. 1 out of 10 individuals experiences such risks. The most common ones observed are:
Splitting of the digestive system: Splitting or Perforation is a serious issue. In this, the bacteria move to the stomach and infect the abdomen lining (peritoneum). The condition is peritonitis.
The peritoneum lacks an inbuilt defense system for fighting infection. Therefore, the infection spreads rapidly to the blood and results in a medical emergency. If not treated at the right moment, it results in multiple organ failures and ultimately, the patient’s death.
An emergency pain in the abdomen is the only symptom. It makes the situation even worse.
In this condition, admission to the hospital is very important. Your doctor gives antibiotic injections, followed by surgery to seal the intestinal wall.
Internal bleeding: It is another form of complication which occurs in the digestive system. It can make you feel tired and unwell. The major symptoms in patients with internal bleeding are breathlessness, irregular heartbeat, pale skin, tiredness, vomiting blood, etc. In this situation, doctors recommend a blood transfusion process.
Complications generally occur during the third week of enteric fever.
How is Enteric Fever Treated?
Consult your doctor immediately. If the report is positive, your doctor will prescribe some medications. In most of the cases, doctors cure this illness with a course of antibiotics.
You will start seeing improvements in 1-2 days and recover within a week. The vaccine is now available with an effectiveness of 80%.
However, there are other factors that better determine which treatment works for you. Your doctor will help you understand based on the severity of the disease.
For severe cases, admission to the hospital is necessary. A proper course of antibiotic treatment will make you feel better. If not diagnosed on time, typhoid can be fatal.
What Steps Should You Take to Prevent Enteric Fever?
If you are someone who travels frequently, then you must practice precautionary measures to prevent typhoid fever, especially while traveling:
· Be very careful about your drinking and eating habits.
· Do not forget to wash your hands before consuming anything, especially raw food.
· Avoid drinking tap water.
· Avoid eating food from street shops.
· Say No to raw food, especially meat, chicken, etc.
· Carry safe, hygienic water bottles with tight seals.
· Always prefer boiled water because it is germ-free.
· Avoid salads.
· Have only pasteurized hot tea, milk, or coffee.
· Practice good hygiene. Use a hand sanitizer or soap, especially after visiting the washroom.
· Avoid touching your face.
Enteric fever is contagious. If not taken care of at the right time, it becomes severe and fatal. Therefore, we suggest you practice cleanliness and good hygiene practices to keep yourself away from the disease.
The body remains weak during recovery and needs adequate nutrition. Therefore, it is vital to follow a proper and healthy diet with medication.
Follow the required precautionary measures, as stated above. Be careful while traveling to an area where typhoid is prevalent. Get medications on time and make sure you finish the entire treatment process to prevent the spread of this fatal disease.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):
- In which age group is enteric fever more common?
Children, infants, and young adults are at higher risk of typhoid.
- What is the difference between paratyphoid and typhoid fever?
Enteric fever or typhoid originates from the bacteria Salmonella typhi, whereas paratyphoid occurs from Salmonella paratyphi. However, the symptoms and severity are almost the same in both illnesses.
- What is the mortality rate of typhoid?
The disease has a 0.2% risk of mortality. With the proper antibiotic course, typhoid fever is a short-term illness that requires approximately 5-6 days of hospitalization.
- Is physical activity restricted in typhoid fever?
Patients should stay at home and take proper rest until they recover.