Update: A Guide for Travelers
Typhoid fever is a bacterial
infection of the digestive system caused by Salmonella typhi.It
can be a life threatening illness and is common in developing countries
throughout the world, many of which are visited by travelers who are on
vacation or business. Typhoid affects about 12.5 million people each year;
however, it can be prevented with vaccination and can usually be treated
with antibiotics. If you plan to travel, you should know about typhoid
fever and what you can do to protect yourself from it.
How is typhoid fever
a bacterium that is only found in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry
the bacteria in their blood stream and intestinal tract; some recover from
the illness, but still carry the bacteria. Both the sick person and the
carrier shed S. typhi in their stool. One may contract typhoid
fever if he/she ingests food or beverages that have been handled by an
infected person, or if contaminated sewage is introduced into the water
supply that is used for drinking or for washing food. Therefore, the
disease is more common in areas of the world where hand washing is less
frequent and the water sanitation is poor. Once S. typhi bacteria
are eaten or drunk, they multiply and spread into the blood stream. The
body reacts with fever and other signs and symptoms.
Where is Typhoid Fever?
Typhoid fever is common in most parts of
the world except in industrialized countries such as the United States,
Canada, western Europe, Australia, and Japan. If you are traveling to any
other country, you should consider taking precautions. The Centers of
Disease Control (CDC) reports an increased risk to travelers going to
Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
How to Avoid Typhoid Fever
First, avoid risky foods and drinks.
"Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it." Drink only purified,
properly treated, or bottled water, and avoid ice. Eat foods that have
been well cooked and are still hot. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables that
you do not cook or peel yourself, especially lettuce. Also, avoid foods
and beverages from street vendors, seeing that it is difficult for food to
be kept clean on the street.
Second, get vaccinated. If you are
traveling to a place where typhoid fever exists, you should be vaccinated.
You need to complete your vaccination at least 1 week before you travel so
that the vaccine has time to take effect. As soon as your travel plans are
set, contact WTA partner, Passport Health for information about the
typhoid vaccines available.
Signs and Symptoms of
People with typhoid fever usually sustain a
fever as high as 103° to 104° F. They may also feel weak, have stomach
pains, headache, or a loss of appetite. In some cases, patients exhibit a
rash of flat, rose-colored spots. The only way to diagnose typhoid fever
is to test blood or stool samples for the presence of S. typhi. If
you think you have typhoid, see a doctor immediately. If you are traveling
in a foreign country, you may call the U.S. consulate for a listing of
recommended doctors in your area. You will probably be given an antibiotic
to treat the disease. Those who receive antibiotics usually begin to feel
better within two to three days. However, those who do not get treated may
continue to have a fever for weeks or months. As many as 20% may die
from complications of the infection.
Typhoid fever’s danger doesn’t end when
the symptoms do. Even if you recover, you may still be carrying S.
typhi. If you are, the illness can return, or you could pass the
disease on to other people. In fact, if your work includes food handling
or the care of children, you may be legally barred from returning to work
until it has been determined that you no longer carry any typhoid
Additional information about typhoid
fever and its vaccines can be obtained by contacting Passport Health. For
a listing of Passport Health locations,
click here, or call
Passport Health directly at