Typhoid Fever in Developing Nations
Typhoid Fever: A
By Nicole Kraatz
Typhoid fever is an
acute illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. The causative
bacteria was first isolated in 1880 by Karl Erberth. The disease
is transmitted via the oral-fecal route and is only known to affect humans.
Currently in the United
States, there are about 5,700 cases of typhoid fever reported annually.
Most of the cases reported are acquired by traveling to developing countries.
This disease can be life threatening. The general incubation
for typhoid fever is about 1-2 weeks, with the illness itself lasting for
around 3-4 weeks. Some of the symptoms of the disease may
include headaches, decreased appetite, high fever and diarrhea. Additional
symptoms of the disease are chest congestion, abdominal pains and rashes.
Because the disease is transmitted via the oral-fecal route, patients can become infected by eating or drinking contaminated
items being handled by infected persons. The bacteria then infects the bloodstream
as well as the small intestine and other organ systems and tissue. The disease
is treated with antibiotics. Those in developing countries such as Asia, Africa and Latin America where sanitation systems are compromised
are the most vulnerable for contracting the disease. One of the most
effective ways to prevent the spread of typhoid fever is practicing proper hygiene
protocol, such as hand washing and boiling unclean water. Also, having proper
waste management, water purification, and treatment of the sick can drastically
decrease the chance of spreading the bacteria. There are also vaccines in order
to prevent the spread of typhoid fever, especially before traveling to an area
where typhoid fever is prevalent.