Typhoid fever

Typhoid fever is caused by consuming food or drink that is contaminated with the Salmonella typhi bacteria, a pathogen that only lives in humans.

How do you catch typhoid fever?

Typhoid fever is most common in India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, parts of Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. There is also a chance of catching it in African and South American countries, although it’s less likely than in Asia. The likelihood of catching typhoid fever is greatest in countries where standards of hygiene are poor, and sewage systems and drinking water provisions are inferior. The supervision of food preparation is often also below standard in these countries.

What are the symptoms?

Usually between 8 and 14 days after being infected you can expect symptoms such as:

  • a rising fever
  • headache
  • tiredness
  • nausea
  • stomach ache
  • coughing (but not often)

Usually though, you will suffer from constipation, which can, after a while, turn to diarrhoea. You could also suffer from diminished awareness. The seriousness varies from person to person. If left untreated, it could lead to complications, particularly intestinal bleeding and perforation. You can also get inflammation in other parts of your body, but this is much less common. Typhoid fever responds well to antibiotics, but you should start taking them as soon as possible.

How can you avoid catching typhoid fever?

Vaccination will give you 70% protection against the disease. The protection given by the vaccination will last for three years. However, even then it is important that you follow general hygiene guidelines. For more information see Health tips or Information per region.