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Typhoid Fever Definition
An illness resulting from infection with the bacterium salmonella typhi. Typhoid fever is rare in the United States, and most people who have the illness acquire the infection while traveling in regions of the world where typhoid fever is endemic. Substandard community sanitation is the key risk for the spread of typhoid fever.
The bacteria infect the small intestine. Infection spreads through fecal-oral contamination, primarily through consumption of contaminated water and foods. Some people are carriers of typhoid fever; they are infected with S. typhi but do not develop symptoms or illness.
Cultures of blood and stool samples reveal the presence of S. typhi, which is conclusive for diagnosis. Treatment is antibiotic medications, commonly ampicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMZ), or ciprofloxacin.
Most people feel much improved within three days of starting antibiotic therapy, though the bacteria may remain in their bodies for six weeks or longer, during which time they remain contagious (capable of passing the infection to others).
People who work in food service, health care, and other public contact jobs may require a doctor’s statement of health, verifying negative blood and stool cultures, before they can return to work. People who are planning to travel to regions of the world where typhoid fever is common should receive typhoid fever vaccine to prevent infection.
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