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 period 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.