It affects 22 million people per year with 200,000 deaths worldwide. So obviously a nasty illness!
Typhoid fever is caused by a bacterium that goes by the exotic name of Salmonella enterica Typhi. But don’t be fooled, ‘Sally T’ lurks around contaminated food, beverages and water and waits for an opportunity to be ingested by an unsuspecting human being to create havoc.
People can get it from infected wells, from fruit and veges that were fertilized by raw sewerage; shellfish harvested from sewerage polluted seabeds and can also be transmitted by flies. ‘Sally T’ loves dirty, filthy places!
How do you feel when you have Typhoid fever? Definitely not great! It starts with fever, headaches, and loss of appetite, insomnia and often in adults with constipation. Without treatment this can escalate with complications developing, which may prove fatal. Fortunately, we have medicines that can treat it effectively.
When would you be at risk if you were traveling? Basically this depends a lot on the nature and length of your travels. ‘Sally T’ and her offspring live worldwide but feel most at home in places where hygiene is questionable, especially as far as food preparation is concerned and where sewerage is not disposed of properly. Should you stay in areas where hygiene is reasonably good, the risk is generally low. Places where you are most likely to make ‘Sally’s’ acquaintance would be in parts of west and north Africa, in India and in Peru.
So how do you protect yourself against this infection?
Be sensible as to what you eat and drink:
When traveling drink recognized brand bottled water only. Brush teeth with bottled water, don’t have ice in your drinks (Sally doesn’t mind being frozen!) and keep your mouth shut in the shower! Steer clear of salads and fruit salads and stick to well cooked, hot foods. Your motto should be:
BOIL IT, COOK IT, PEEL IT,
When going to high-risk areas, it would be advisable to have a vaccination against Typhoid Fever. Although not a hundred percent effective, some protection is better than none. The vaccine is safe and side effects are minimal. It needs to be given at least two to three weeks before leaving on your travels as it takes your body a while to build up an arsenal of antibodies to fight the disease. These antibodies gradually get less over three years so another vaccination would be required after this time.