Typhoid, sometimes known as enteric fever, is a disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi.
S. Typhi (Photo: CDC)
Classic typhoid fever is a serious disease. It can be life-threatening unless treated promptly with antibiotics. The disease lasts several weeks and convalescence takes some time.
Typhoid varies in severity, but nearly all patients experience fever and headache. The incubation period is usually 7-14 days, but can be shorter or longer depending upon how many bacteria are ingested. Symptoms include sustained fever (39°C to 40°C), headache, stomach pains, loss of appetite and nausea. In some cases, patients have a rash of flat, rose-colored spots.
Typhoid is almost exclusively acquired abroad through the ingestion of heavily contaminated food and water.
Typhoid bacteria are passed in the faeces and urine of infected people. People become infected by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by an infected person, or by drinking water that has been contaminated by sewage containing the bacteria. Good hygiene and proper sanitation prevent the spread of typhoid.