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Typhoid

Typhoid is an infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhimurium (S. typhi). The bacterium lives in the intestines and bloodstream of humans. It spreads between individuals by direct contact with the feces of an infected person. No animals carry this disease, so transmission is always human to human. If untreated, around 1 in 5 cases of typhoid can be fatal. With treatment, fewer than 4 in 100 cases are fatal. S. typhi enters through the mouth and spends 1 to 3 weeks in the intestine. After this, it makes its way through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. From the bloodstream, it spreads into other tissues and organs. The immune system of the host can do little to fight back because S. typhi can live within the host's cells, safe from the immune system. Typhoid is diagnosed by detecting the presence of S. typhi via blood, stool, urine, or bone marrow sample.

Symptoms

Signs and symptoms are likely to develop gradually — often appearing one to three weeks after exposure to the disease.

  • Poor appetite
  • Headaches
  • Generalized aches and pains
  • Fever as high as 104 degrees Farenheit
  • Lethargy
  • Diarrhea

Causes

Typhoid is caused by the bacteria S. typhi and spread through food, drinks, and drinking water that are contaminated with infected fecal matter. Washing fruit and vegetables can spread it, if contaminated water is used. Some people are asymptomatic carriers of typhoid, meaning that they harbor the bacteria but suffer no ill effects. Others continue to harbor the bacteria after their symptoms have gone. Sometimes, the disease can appear again. People who test positive as carriers may not be allowed to work with children or older people until medical tests show that they are clear.