Typhoid fever is a very dangerous infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi. These bacteria live only in humans and so good hygiene and sanitation are paramount in the prevention of the disease.

Once you ingest the bacteria, usually in contaminated food or water, they multiply in your intestines and spread into the bloodstream. The symptoms of the infection include a persistent high temperature (fever) that gradually increases each day, fatigue, headache, nausea, tummy ache and either constipation or diarrhoea. Some people also develop a rash. 

Some people develop severe symptoms a few weeks after symptoms start which include stomach pain and a very swollen stomach, sepsis as a result of intestinal damage, confusion, apathy and it may lead to death.  

If you become ill with typhoid fever and it’s diagnosed early, you should experience only moderate symptoms and can be treated at home with a course of antibiotics. More severe cases typically have to be treated in hospital.

It’s possible that the bacteria you’ve been infected with will be antibiotic-resistant. In that scenario, a more complicated treatment is necessary. 

When your symptoms subside and you start feeling good, you may still carry typhoid bacteria and infect others because bacteria are still leaving your body in the faeces. 

When you’re ill and afterwards, wash your hands with soap and water after using the toilet and avoid preparing or serving food for other people. 

Typhoid fever is very contagious and if even a tiny amount of an infected person’s excrements contaminates water or food, the disease can spread quickly. Typhoid fever is common in areas with inadequate sanitation and a lack of safe drinking water. Washing or sanitising your hands often will lower your chances of contracting typhoid fever. In addition, avoiding animal products, especially undercooked ones will also slash your risk of infection. When it comes to fruit and vegetables, these should be washed in clean water, a disinfectant solution or peeled.There are vaccines available against typhoid fever but some of them offer only temporary protection.