by Diana Kohnle
What Is Typhoid?
Typhoid, or typhoid fever, is a serious and potentially fatal illness caused by specific bacteria.
Typhoid can be prevented by a vaccine. Although the typhoid vaccine is effective, it cannot prevent 100% of typhoid infections.
Typhoid fever does occur within the US; however, it is more common in developing countries where water is likely to be contaminated by bacteria. It is important, particularly when traveling in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, to be aware of possible bacteria contamination of food and water.
The bacterium is contracted through drinking water that has been contaminated with sewage. It can also be ingested by eating food that has been washed in bacteria-laden water.
The most common symptoms of typhoid include:
Typhoid is treated with antibiotics. Without treatment, fever and symptoms may continue for weeks or months, and death may occur as a result of complications from the bacterial infection.
What Is the Typhoid Vaccine? TOP
There are 2 types of typhoid vaccines:
The inactivated vaccine is given as a shot. It should not be given to children younger than 2 years old. A single dose should be given at least 14 days before traveling abroad. Booster shots are needed every 2 years for those who continue to be in parts of the world where they would be exposed to typhoid fever.
The live typhoid vaccine is given orally. It should not be given to children younger than 6 years old. Four doses, with a day separating each dose, are needed. A booster dose is needed every 5 years.
Who Should Get Vaccinated and When? TOP
Although the typhoid vaccine is not given routinely in the US, the following individuals should be vaccinated:
Boosters of the inactive vaccine are required every 2 years for people at risk of contracting typhoid, and every 5 years for those at risk who take the oral vaccine.
For maximum effectiveness, the vaccine should be taken 2-3 weeks prior to the potential exposure the bacterium.
What Are the Risks Associated With the Typhoid Vaccine? TOP
Common side effects of the vaccine given by injection include:
Common side effects of the oral vaccine include:
Side effects that may indicate a serious allergic reaction include:
Who Should Not Get Vaccinated? TOP
Consult your doctor if you are traveling and are at risk for acquiring typhoid fever, especially if you have any of the above conditions.
What Other Ways Can Typhoid Be Prevented Besides Vaccination? TOP
Below are some ways to decrease your risk of getting typhoid:
What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak? TOP
If the suspected cause comes from a commercial food-service facility, the facility and employees should be investigated within 24 hours of determining the suspected source.
If the suspected source is a daycare facility, the facility and employees should be investigated and questioned about recent travel and symptoms.
Also, in the event of an outbreak, government agencies should educate the public on ways to prevent the transmission of typhoid, including proper hygiene habits and careful food preparation.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION?
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Bhutta ZA, Khan MI, Soofi SB, Ochiai RL. New advances in typhoid Fever vaccination strategies. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2011;697:17-39.
Nelson CB, de Quadros C. Coalition against typhoid: a new, global initiative to advance typhoid vaccination. Vaccine. 2011;29(38):6443.
Typhoid vaccine. US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at:
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Published May 29, 2012. Accessed June 10, 2015.
Last reviewed June 2015 by David L. Horn, MD, FACP
Last Updated: 6/20/2014
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