Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi. It is primarily transmitted through contaminated food and water or close contact with an infected person. Typhoid fever is more common in areas with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water.
The symptoms of typhoid fever can vary in severity. They usually develop 1 to 3 weeks after exposure to the bacteria. Common symptoms include sustained high fever, headache, abdominal pain, loss of appetite, and general weakness. Some individuals may also experience constipation or diarrhoea.
Typhoid fever is typically spread through the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. It can also be transmitted through close contact with an infected individual, particularly through oral contact with their faecal matter.
Vaccination is an effective preventive measure against typhoid fever. Two types of vaccines are available: the oral live attenuated vaccine and the injectable Vi capsular polysaccharide vaccine. The choice of vaccine depends on factors such as age, travel destination and duration of travel. In addition to vaccination, practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands thoroughly and consuming safe, clean food and water, can help reduce the risk of typhoid infection.
Typhoid fever can be treated with antibiotics. Prompt diagnosis and appropriate antibiotic therapy are crucial in managing the infection and reducing complications. It’s important to complete the full course of antibiotics as prescribed by a healthcare professional.
Travellers visiting regions with a higher risk of typhoid fever should take precautions to prevent infection. This includes consuming only safe, properly cooked food and drinks, avoiding street food and raw or undercooked foods and drinking bottled water or using water purification methods.
Types of Typhoid Vaccines
There are two main types of typhoid vaccines available:
a. Inactivated Typhoid Vaccine (Injectable): This vaccine is given as an injection and is suitable for individuals above the age of 2 years. It provides protection against typhoid fever for several years.
b. Live Attenuated Typhoid Vaccine (Oral): This vaccine is taken orally in the form of capsules or liquid. It is typically given to individuals above the age of 6 years. The oral vaccine may require multiple doses for full protection and provides immunity for a shorter duration compared to the injectable vaccine.
The typhoid vaccine schedule varies depending on the type of vaccine being used. The inactivated typhoid vaccine is typically administered as a single dose, while the live attenuated typhoid vaccine may require multiple doses spread over a few days or weeks. It’s essential to follow the recommended schedule provided by healthcare professionals.
Who Should Get Vaccinated
The typhoid vaccine is recommended for individuals who are at an increased risk of exposure to typhoid fever. This includes:
- Travellers visiting regions with a higher risk of typhoid fever, especially areas with poor sanitation and hygiene practices
- Individuals working or residing in regions with endemic typhoid fever
- Laboratory workers who handle the Salmonella Typhi bacteria
- Individuals who may come into direct contact with someone infected with typhoid fever
The typhoid vaccine is generally effective in preventing typhoid fever. However, no vaccine provides 100% protection, so it’s still important to take precautions when travelling to areas with a high risk of typhoid fever, such as practicing good hygiene and consuming safe food and water.
In addition to vaccination, it’s important to follow safe food and water practices when travelling to areas with a risk of typhoid fever. This includes drinking only bottled or boiled water, avoiding street food and raw or undercooked foods and washing hands frequently with soap and clean water.
Vaccine Side Effects
The typhoid vaccine is generally safe. Common side effects may include soreness at the injection site (for the injectable vaccine), mild fever, headache, and fatigue. Serious side effects are rare.
It is recommended to consult with a healthcare provider or a travel medicine specialist to assess your need for the typhoid vaccine based on your travel plans, individual risk factors and any underlying health conditions. They can provide specific recommendations and guidance regarding the typhoid vaccine and its administration.