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Typhoid Vaccination - Do I need it?

Updated on August 2, 2016

Typhoid is caused by bacteria (Salmonella Typhi or Salmonella Paratyphi AB or C) which gets into water via contaminated urine or faeces. This is called the faecal-oral route of infection.

If you drink this water or eat raw food that has been washed by it, or eat food prepared by someone who has it and hasn’t washed their hands after using the bathroom, you can contract typhoid.

What is typhoid?

Typhoid infection causes fever, headache, confusion, muscle aches, abdominal pain, and constipation is common in adults and is followed by bloody diarrhoea with a high temperature.

The incubation period (the time from infection to showing symptoms) is 1-3 weeks and patients remain infectious for up to 3 months after infection. A small percentage are carriers of typhoid for life.

Where does typhoid occur?

Typhoid occurs in areas when there is poor sanitation. It is especially common in Africa, the Indian Sub-Continent, South-East Asia and South America. It can potentially occur anywhere in the world because it is spread by the individual.

Visitors to these areas are advised to have a typhoid vaccination before they travel, which will protect them for 3 years.

Preventing typhoid.

If you’re travelling in areas where typhoid is common (see above) then vaccination is very important. The single vaccination often comes in combination with Hepatitis A because the 2 diseases share the same route of infection.

The typhoid vaccine doesn’t offer 100% protection so it’s also very important to take the following precautions as well:

  • While you’re visiting the country, avoid eating raw vegetables (including salads) and fruit, shellfish or raw/undercooked meat and fish.
  • Be sure to wash your hands well after visiting the bathroom.

Side effects to the vaccination are unusual but include soreness or redness at the site of injection; very rarely anaphylaxis in response to an ingredient in the vaccine.

Typhoid treatment.

Treatment is with an antibiotic. Untreated typhoid is fatal in about 20% of cases and you should always seek medical help if you have a feverish illness when travelling abroad.


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