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How Is Typhoid Spread?

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    Basics

    • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 400 cases of typhoid are diagnosed in the United States each year. Of those, approximately 75 percent are diagnosed in people who have traveled to developing countries where typhoid is common, Typhoid affects approximately 21.5 million people annually. Typhoid is a bacterial disease caused by Salmonella typhi (S. typhi). This bacterium lives only in the human blood stream and intestinal tract. Typhoid is spread through contact with the stool of a person who is shedding the disease.

    Water

    • Coming into contact with sewage that contains the S. typhi bacterium is one way the disease is spread. In this case, typhoid may be spread when the contaminated water is used to wash food, if it is used as drinking water or as water to wash up. Just a small amount of S. typhi in water is enough to spread typhoid.

    Foodstuffs

    • Typhoid can be contracted by eating or drinking food and beverages that were handled by a person with typhoid. This is most common when the handler fails to properly wash his hands after defecating.

    Progress

    • Once typhoid is ingested, the bacterium begins to multiply. As it multiples, it enters the blood stream and the intestinal tract. After a person has ingested typhoid, symptoms will become apparent in anywhere from 3 days to 3 months, according to the Utah Bureau of Epidemiology. Most people will notice symptoms in 1 to 2 weeks.

    Symptoms

    • Symptoms of typhoid include intestinal ulcers and swelling, a high fever, stomach pain and nausea, unconsciousness, nose bleeds and aching in the arms and legs. Typhoid may affect the brain, heart and liver. The only effective protection against the spread of typhoid disease is immunization because S. typhi can be contracted even after using stringent hand washing procedures. Anyone with these symptoms should contact a doctor, especially if the person experiencing the symptoms has been to a developing country recently.

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