Definition

Typhoid and paratyphoid fevers are infections from bacteria.

Causes

Certain bacteria cause the infection. You get it through contact with fluids from the body of a person who is sick. Some people don’t get sick. They can still pass it to others. The bacteria also pass to you when you use food or drinks tainted with sewage.

Digestive System

Small intestines
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Risk Factors

Typhoid is common in places with poor sanitation. The risk of getting sick is highest in parts of India, Africa, and Asia.

Risk is also higher if you have:

  • Contact with body fluids
  • Food or drink tainted by sewage
  • Low amounts of stomach acid—can happen when you take acid reducers

Symptoms

Symptoms range from mild to severe.

Mild:

  • Low fever
  • Headache
  • Constipation—more common in adults
  • Diarrhea—more common in children
  • Rash of rose-colored spots
  • A coating on your tongue
  • Lack of hunger

Severe:

  • High fever and chills—may last a long time
  • Belly pain
  • Changes in your mental state

Diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms. You will be asked about your health and travel history. A physical exam may point to typhoid. If needed, you may also have:

Treatment

Care will start right away, even if your test results aren’t ready. Antibiotics treat the infection. You may also need:

  • Rehydration—may be given through an IV or by mouth
  • Medicines to lower fever or ease pain
  • Surgery to remove the gallbladder—for people who carry typhoid (not common)

Prevention

When you travel to places where typhoid is common:

  • Talk to your doctor about getting the vaccine before you leave.
  • Don’t use local water unless you know it’s safe.
  • Eat foods that are cooked through and hot.
  • Don’t eat raw or undercooked shellfish.
  • Don’t eat raw fruits or vegetables that don’t have a peel.
  • Don’t eat or drink unpasteurized dairy.