What is typhoid fever?

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Typhoid fever is a type of fever that is caused by infection from the Salmonella enterica or Typhi bacteria.  This bacteria is known to be present in human feces and can be spread through contaminated food or water.  Once a person is infected with the Salmonella enterica or Typhi bacteria, he/she may get high-grade fever along with other symptoms as the infection progresses.

The first week of having typhoid fever may involve having low grade fever at first with possible headache, body weakness, diarrhea, poor appetite, and coughing.  At this stage, blood tests would show that white blood cells are declining and this explains the compromised immune system of the body.  As the fever progresses, some rashes may develop in the chest and abdomen areas.  The involvement of the lungs will also produce abnormal rhonchi or breath sounds.  Patients will also become more delirious and agitated at this time.  When the disease reaches its third week, more serious symptoms will be present.  Bleeding may occur in the intestines and the bacteria can also spread to the lining of the brain which is very serious.  Neuropsychiatric symptoms will also appear because of the very high fever and brain involvement.  Inflammatory changes will also affect many parts of the body.

As with many diseases, prevention is key for typhoid fever.  The spread of the Salmonella Typhi bacteria can be effectively stopped with proper hygiene and sanitation.  Frequent and proper hand-washing is very important before having meals, during food preparation, and after using the comfort room.  In terms of treatment, patients with typhus fever are often advised to have oral rehydration therapy.  Antibiotics are also given to fight the Salmonella Typhi bacteria and stop the progression of the disease.  In severe cases that involve perforations in the intestines or the gallbladder for example, surgery may be required.

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