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Typhoid, also known as typhoid fever is a life threatening disease that is caused due to an infection by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control) almost 21.5 million people in developing countries contract typhoid each year. Here are a few common questions about the disease answered.
How is typhoid caused?
Typhoid is caused by the bacteriumSalmonella typhi, which is present only in human beings and is transmitted through contaminated food or water. People with this infection carry the bacterium in their intestines and bloodstream. Also, people who have recovered from the disease could still have the bacterium in their system; they are known as carriers of the disease. The common modes of transmission of this bacteria are:
What are the common symptoms of typhoid?
Once the bacterium is ingested it quickly multiplies within the stomach, liver or gallbladder and finally enters the blood stream causing symptoms. The common signs and symptoms of typhoid are:
In severe cases, one may suffer from:
What is step ladder fever?
One of the characteristic symptoms of typhoid is a step ladder fever . This means that the fever fluctuates between very high and low temperatures for a short period of time, till it peaks at 1030F 1040F. In patients without any complications the condition subsides in about three to four weeks after its onset. In about 10% of people, the condition relapses after about one week of convalescence.
How is it diagnosed?
The disease is usually diagnosed using a stool sample or blood sample. The presence of the bacterium is most easily visible either at the beginning or at the end of the disease. Other diagnostic tests that are currently used to diagnose typhoid are:
Here is some additional information on diagnosis of typhoid.
Is there a cure?
Usually, depending on the severity of the condition, a patient might be administered drugs either orally or intravenously.
Antibiotics: Once diagnosed, the first line of treatment involves the use of antibiotics such as ciprofloxacin and ampicillin. Although chloramphenicol was used previously, due to severe side effects in some patients, the use of this drug has been discontinued.
Additional treatment options: These include staying hydrated by consuming uncontaminated drinks or water and eating a diet rich in nutrients.
Recently there have been advances in the treatment and prevention of typhoid, one of the most interesting finds is the development of a new vaccine to prevent typhoid.
What care should one take duringconvalescence?
Ideally, a person suffering from typhoid should not discontinue their medication as soon as they feel better. This is because, typhoid has a high rate of relapse and hence the patient should continue his/her medication until their doctor asks them to stop. They must also ensure that they wash their hands well with an antibacterial soap after going to the toilet and before touching any food or water.
What can one do to avoid contracting the condition?
Here are few tips for people to prevent typhoid and stay protected:
Vaccination: Today, there are vaccines that can protect you from contracting typhoid. The Ty21a vaccine is administered intramuscularly (injected into a muscle) and requires the patient to take a booster shot after five years. That being said, even if a person has taken the vaccine, they should not expose themselves to possible infectious agents, because the vaccine is still not very effective.
Apart from the vaccine, there are some basic things that one can take care of in order to avoid the condition:
Typhoid is a completely avoidable condition, just keep these simple tips in mind to keep the disease at bay.
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