Welcome to the Typhoid Fever section of the Washington Travel Clinic website. This page contains valuable information on typhoid fever and its prevention, as well as links to the CDC website where you can learn about country-specific recommendations for typhoid vaccination.
The typhoid vaccine is available at the Washington Travel Clinic. Our fee structure is clearly posted in the Pricing section. For an easy online appointment, please click here. Also visit our Homepage for more information about the full spectrum of our services.
Typhoid fever is a life-threatening infectious disease caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. This bacterium is different from other Salmonella bacteria in that it does not cause the typical picture of food poisoning that other Salmonella bacteria do.
In the United States, it is estimated that approximately 5,700 cases occur annually, 75% of which are acquired abroad. Typhoid fever is still common in the developing world, where it affects about 21.5 million persons each year.
Typhoid fever can be prevented and can usually be treated with antibiotics. If you are planning to travel outside the United States, you should know about typhoid fever and what steps you can take to protect yourself.
Salmonella Typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed Salmonella Typhiin their feces (stool).
You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding Salmonella typhi or if sewage contaminated with Salmonella typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage. Once Salmonella typhi bacteria are eaten or drunk, they multiply and spread into the bloodstream.
Persons with typhoid fever usually have a sustained fever as high as 103° to 104° F (39° to 40° C). They may also feel weak or have stomach pains, headache, or loss of appetite. In some cases, patients have a rash of flat, rose-colored spots. The only way to know for sure if an illness is typhoid fever is to have samples of stool or blood tested for the presence of Salmonella Typhi.
Typhoid fever is common in most parts of the world except in industrialized regions such as the United States, Canada, western Europe, Australia, and Japan. Therefore, if you are traveling to the developing world, you should consider taking precautions. Over the past 10 years, travelers from the United States to Asia, Africa, and Latin America have been especially at risk.
Two basic actions can protect you from typhoid fever:
- Avoid risky foods and drinks.
- Typhoid vaccination.
Watching what you eat and drink when you travel is as important as being vaccinated. Avoiding risky foods will also help protect you from other illnesses, including travelers’ diarrhea, cholera, dysentery, and hepatitis A.
Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics. Persons who do not get treatment may continue to have fever for weeks or months, and as many as 20% may die from complications of the infection.
If you are traveling to a country where typhoid is common, you should consider being vaccinated against typhoid. Remember that you will need to complete your vaccination at least 1-2 weeks (dependent upon vaccine type) before you travel so that the vaccine has time to take effect. The typhoid vaccine loses effectiveness after several years.
There are 2 types of typhoid vaccine available: injectable and oral. The injectable typhoid vaccine can be administered starting at age 2 and it provides protection for 2 years. The oral typhoid vaccine can be administered starting at age 6 and it provides protection for 5 years. The oral typhoid vaccine consists of 4 pills that need to stay refrigerated and be taken over a week on an empty stomach. They should be completed at least a week before travel.
Click here for more information about typhoid fever from the CDC website.