There are four illnesses known collectively as enteric fever which have the potential to be serious or even deadly, producing complications in 10-15% of people infected. Typhoid fever and Paratyphoid fever (A, B, & C) are found across the globe, but they’re contracted more often by travellers to the Indian subcontinent, south-east Asia, Africa and some Pacific regions, with a slightly lower risk in the Middle East, South America and the Caribbean. Typhoid and Paratyphoid fever are mostly endemic in countries where there is poor hygiene, untreated drinking water and insufficient or nonexistent sanitary facilities.
What’s the difference between Typhoid and Paratyphoid?
Enteric fever differs in the bacteria that cause each illness. Salmonella typhi bacteria produce Typhoid fever, and one of 3 types of bacteria called Salmonella paratyphi A, B, or C cause Paratyphoid fever – Paratyphoid A is the most common. Both produce enteric fever symptoms.
How do you contract these Typhoid illnesses?
The two infections, Typhoid fever and Paratyphoid fever, are contracted via the consumption of food or drinking water that has been contaminated with human faeces. This is called the faecal-oral route of transmission. People who have survived the disease can become carriers and are able to transmit the illness if they are involved in preparing the food you eat.
How the illness affects humans
Salmonella typhi bacteria, which can produce an overall infection and febrile illness exclusively in humans, may present with a headache, fever, vague stomach pain and confusion. Adults more commonly suffer from constipation, whereas children have diarrhoea.
How are patients treated for Typhoid Illness?
Antibiotics are required to treat these illnesses and it is advisable to seek medical attention if you suffer from any fever while travelling overseas. In a more recent development, there has been a spread of drug-resistant strains of the bacteria, meaning that some antibiotics that were once used to treat the infection are no longer effective.
Are there any vaccines available for the prevention of Typhoid?
Yes, there are vaccines that will help to protect you from Typhoid fever. There is a live, oral vaccine that comes in three capsules, called Vivotif, and two injectable vaccines called Typhim Vi and Typherix. One injection of Typhim Vi or Typherix vaccine will offer protection for three years for Typhoid fever, but they do not cover you for Paratyphoid fever (one of the available vaccines may offer some benefit against Paratyphoid B). Another vaccination for Typhoid is combined with a vaccine for Hepatitis A- it is called Vivaxim. While vaccines for Typhoid fever were developed decades ago and have been used widely, Paratyphoid fever vaccines remain in development.
Prevention advice for travellers
When travelling, you can help avoid contracting Typhoid illnesses by making certain that you eat only safe foods as well as clean, uncontaminated water, especially in countries where Typhoid is more common. Be wary of foods such as salads (the greens might have been washed in contaminated water), shellfish, unwashed fruits and vegetables and especially raw meat or meat that has been undercooked. Be sure to practice good personal cleanliness and hygiene by washing your hands after using the toilet or before handling or eating food. This is important because no vaccine is 100 percent effective. And always keep in mind the old adage: ‘Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it.
If you’re planning a trip overseas be sure to talk to your travel doctor well in advance of your departure because if you’re going to destinations where there are high chances that you may contract Typhoid illness, or any other disease, some vaccines take weeks to become protective.
For free, no obligation information and advice on Typhoid illness symptoms and treatments, call Travelvax on +61 3 0036 0164. For all your travel vaccinations and advice on other illnesses you can contract overseas, book an appointment today with one of our travel doctors near you.
Travelvax Pty Ltd
1/85 O’Riordan St, Alexandria NSW 2015, Australia
+61 3 0036 0164