What is Typhoid Fever?

Typhoid fever is a bacterial illness or disease that is fairly common worldwide. This infection is caused mainly by the Salmonella typhi bacteria. It can be transmitted through infected food or water as well as feces of a contaminated person. Although a more common disease in developing countries, Typhoid fever also affect a considerable number of people in industrial countries where it still can be a threat.

Causes of typhoid fever

Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi. The bacteria can find its way into the human body by way of contaminated food, water and feces. Ingestion of contaminated food or water will enable the bacteria to find its way into the intestinal tract where they break through the intestinal walls and then tries to alter its own structure in order to avoid destruction and allow them to exist along with the cells tasked to defend the body against foreign pathogens. This makes the bacteria resistant to damage that can be caused by the immune system.

The bacteria that cause typhoid fever can also be passed on by people who have the disease. It is possible for a person to contract the disease by coming into contact with food or water handled by an infected person. The bacteria grow best in human body temperature.

Symptoms of typhoid fever

Typhoid fever is usually characterized by prolonged fever that can go as high as 40 degrees Celsius. The fever can happen quickly in children after being infected while signs and symptoms can also sometimes develop gradually from one to three weeks after being infected. People at the first stage of the disease, aside from the fever can also experience headaches, weakness and fatigue, abdominal pain, sore throat and gastrointestinal discomfort. Rashes may also develop during the second week which can then disappear after two to five days.

People with typhoid fever can go to the second stage of the disease if not proper treatment is given. A person may continue to experience high fever along with severe diarrhea or constipation. One may also begin to show considerable weight loss as well as exhibit an extremely distended abdomen. The most severe state of typhoid fever can put one into a state of delirium and may lie motionless and fatigued with the eyes half closed. This is more commonly known as the typhoid state. It is during this state when life threatening complications may begin to develop.

How typhoid fever can be treated?

Antibiotics is currently the best treatment for typhoid fever. Antibiotics being used to treat typhoid fever include ampicillin, chloramphenicol, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and ciprofloxacin. Chloramphenicol as treatment for typhoid fever is seldom given due to the severe side effects as well as a high relapse rate. A growing concern among medical professionals is the growing resistance of the bacteria towards the commonly prescribed antibiotics, especially in the developing countries like India.