Typhoid fever, also referred to as enteric fever is an acute (short onset) bacterial disease. It’s highly infectious but affects humans only.
The fever is caused bacteria (Salmonella typhi bacterium), a type of bacteria commonly found in contaminated water, food and sewage. The bacteria can survive for weeks in water or dried sewage. Its incubation period is usually 1-2 weeks, and the duration of the illness is about 4 weeks.
How is Typhoid Fever spread?
It’s transmitted through
- Contaminated water
- Food and drinks
- Touching mouth or utensils with contaminated hands
People may become carriers of the bacteria after the illness. Others suffer a very mild illness that goes unnoticed. They become long-term carriers of the bacteria even though they have no symptoms and could therefore be the source of new outbreaks of typhoid fever later.
What are the Symptoms of Typhoid Fever?
Symptoms usually develop 1–3 weeks after exposure, and may be mild or severe.
Initial symptoms include
- Fever up to (103°F, or 39.5°C)
- General ill-feeling, and
- Abdominal pain.
- Severe Diarrhoea
- Some people develop a rash –called rose spot.
- Poor appetite,
- Generalized aches and pains,
- Worsening fevers
- Bloody stools
- Chest congestion
Possible complications if not fully or timely treated include
- Severe Bleeding from small and large intestines
- Intestinal perforation
- Kidney failure
- Infection of the peritoneum (Peritonitis)
- Chest congestion and abdominal pain
How Is Typhoid Fever Diagnosed?
Diagnosis is made following;
- Stool analysis
- Blood analysis
How Is Typhoid Fever Treated?
- Supportive care such as replacing lost fluids, fever and pain control
- Adequate nutrition
Note: Vaccines approved by World Health Organization (WHO) are also available
a) Hand washing
This is one of the most important aspects of prevention in domestic settings.
Following use of the toilet or as you touch people, surfaces, and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. In turn, you can infect yourself with these germs by touching the mouth, food or water. Washing hands frequently can, therefore, help limit the transfer of typhoid and other bacteria from hands to other places.
Steps to effective hand washing
|Step 1: Wet hands and apply soap. Rub palms together until soap is bubbly.||Step 2: Rub each palm over the back of the other hand|
|Step 3: Rub between your fingers on each hand.|
|Step 4: Rub your hands with the fingers together.|
|Step 5: Rub around each of your thumbs.||Step 6: Rub in circles on your palms. Then rinse and dry your hands|
Remember to wash your hands before:
- Eating food or drinking water and beverages
- Caring for a sick or injured person
- Preparing food.
- Cutting fruits or vegetables
- Shaking hands with others
Remember to wash your hands after:
- Using the toilet or changing a diaper
- Touching an animal or animal toys, leashes or waste
- Treating wounds or caring for a sick or injured person
- Handling garbage or anything that could be contaminated, such as soiled clothes or shoes
- Shaking hands with others
b) Safe water
Drinking water should either be boiled or treated. Avoid taking water from an unknown source.
c) Food safety
Wash hands with soap before preparing or eating food;
- Avoid food from unknown source especially raw food.
- Eat only cooked and still hot food or re-heat it.
- Food inspections in restaurants should be enforced especially during outbreaks
- Regular health check-ups for food handlers is important
- Use toilets and latrines for disposal of human waste at all times
- Ensure collection and treatment of sewage, especially during the rainy season
- Avoid use of human excreta as fertiliser.
e) Health education
Community education and involvement is the cornerstone of behaviour change. Emphasis is on repeated education on the need for:
- Proper regular hand washing
- Strict use of toilet/latrines
- Safe water sources
- Food safety
- Excellent personal hygiene at home and work
- Immediate medical attention for suspected victims