What is typhoid fever?
Typhoid fever is a bacterial illness caused by a unique strain of Salmonella called Salmonella typhi (S. typhi). This bacterium affects the intestinal tract and occasionally the bloodstream. Most cases reported in the United States are acquired during foreign travel to underdeveloped countries.
Where are S. typhi bacteria found?
S. typhi can be found in people.
How do these bacteria spread?
S. typhi bacteria are passed in the stool and, to some extent, the urine of infected people. The bacteria are spread by eating or drinking water or foods contaminated by stool from an infected individual.
Who gets typhoid fever?
Anyone can get typhoid fever but the greatest risk exists to travelers visiting countries where the disease is common. Occasionally, local cases can be traced to exposure to a person who is a chronic carrier.
What are the symptoms of typhoid fever?
Persons with typhoid fever usually have a sustained fever as high as 103° to 104° F. They may also feel weak, or have stomach pains, headache, or loss of appetite. In some cases, patients have a rash of flat, rose-colored spots. Relapses are common. Fatalities are less than 1 percent with antibiotic treatment.
How soon do symptoms appear?
Depending on the size of the infecting dose, symptoms generally appear from 8 – 14 days after exposure (range 3 days to 1 month).
How long can an infected person carry the typhoid bacteria?
The carrier stage varies from a number of days to years. Only about 3% of cases become lifelong carriers of the bacteria, and this tends to occur more often in adults than in children.
Should an infected person be excluded from work or school?
Except for people in high-risk occupations/settings (food workers, health care providers, day care attendees), most infected people may return to work or school when they have recovered, provided that they carefully wash hands after toilet visits.
How is typhoid fever treated?
Specific antibiotics are often used to treat cases of typhoid fever.
What can be done to prevent the spread of typhoid fever?
A vaccine is available; however, it is generally reserved for people traveling to underdeveloped countries where significant exposure may occur. Strict attention to food and water precautions while traveling to such countries is the most effective prevention method.
This fact sheet is for informational purposes only. It should not be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you think that you may have this infection, or have questions about the disease described above, you should consult your health care provider.
For additional information on this disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.
To contact the Epidemiology and Emerging Infections Program, please call 860-509-7994.