Typhoid Fever Profile
Typhoid fever is an acute comprehensive infection caused by bacillus Salmonella typhi. The bacteria live in humans only. People with the disease carry it within their bloodstream and intestinal tracks. A small percentage of individuals recover from the illness remaining carriers of the disease for years. Both carriers and those infected with Typhoid Fever shed the disease in their feces and at times urine (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).
While not common in highly industrialized countries, Typhoid fever is still a present threat in developing countries. It often afflicts Americans that have traveled outside the United States. The illness is spread through fecal-oral ingestion. This occurs through consumption of contaminated food and water. On occasion it can be directly transmitted from an infected individual. Poor sanitation can lead to contaminated water supplies, whereas poor hygiene can lead to contaminated food. Those who are treated and remain carriers harbor the bacteria in their intestinal tracks and gallbladders. While they show no signs or symptoms they are capable of infecting others (Mayo Clinic, 2010).
The signs and symptoms of Typhoid Fever tend to be gradual in onset, although at times children may become sick suddenly. Symptoms can take one to three weeks after exposure to develop. Early signs may include chilled sensations alternating with hot flashes, headaches, backaches, loss of appetite, diarrhea or constipation, and general aching and ill feelings. The fever is slow to rise, typically reaching a height of 103 or 104 degrees. Initially pink spots, known as rose spots, may appear across the abdomen. Tenderness of the abdomen and an enlarged spleen is not uncommon. Typhoid Fever is seen in all degrees ranging from light cases to those that are life-threatening (McKnight, MD, 1968).
Typhoid Fever is treated through antibiotics. However, antibiotic resistance is increasing throughout the world. In the United States Ciprofloxacin is often prescribed to non-pregnant adults. Alternatively, for those who are pregnant or for children who may not be able to take Ciprofloxacin, an injectable antibiotic Ceftriaxone may be prescribed. These antibiotics can cause side effects and their long term use can lead to development of further antibiotic resistant strains. In addition to antibiotic treatment fluids and a healthy, non-bulky, high caloric diet is recommended (Mayo Clinic, 2010).
With proper treatment symptoms will often improve within two to four weeks. With early treatment individuals, especially those in industrialized countries are likely to recover. Symptoms can return if the treatment has not completely cured the infection. Those who do not seek or obtain treatment may not survive complications. Possible complications can include, intestinal hemorrhaging, intestinal perforation, kidney failure, peritonitis, and infection (Medline Plus, 2011).
McKnight, W.B. MD. (1968). The Home Medical Encyclopedia: A Guide To Health. Nashville:
The Southwestern Company.
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