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Patient education: Enteric (typhoid and paratyphoid) fever (The Basics)

Patient education: Enteric (typhoid and paratyphoid) fever (The Basics)

What is enteric fever? — Enteric fever is a fever caused by an infection with types of bacteria called Salmonella Typhi and Salmonella Paratyphi. Enteric fever is also called "typhoid fever" or "paratyphoid fever." The fever usually happens along with belly pain and chills.

Enteric fever is not very common in the US or Europe, but it does occur in other parts of the world, including:

South-Central and Southeast Asia, which includes India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and the Philippines

Africa

Latin America and the Caribbean, which includes Mexico, El Salvador, and Haiti

In these places, the infection that causes enteric fever spreads when people eat or drink things that have the bacteria in them. The bacteria can get into foods and drinks in different ways:

People who are infected can spread their germs to the food they cook if they do not wash their hands before they touch the food.

Bacteria can get into the water supply through the bowel movements of infected people. Then, if the water is not treated properly and is used in cooking or cleaning, it can spread the infection.

What are the symptoms of enteric fever? — The symptoms include:

Fever

Belly pain

Chills

"Rose spots" – These are faint, salmon-colored spots on the belly and trunk.

Should I see a doctor or nurse? — Yes. If you have symptoms of enteric fever, see your doctor or nurse.

Is there a test for enteric fever? — Yes. To find out if you are infected by the bacteria that cause enteric fever, your doctor or nurse can order a "culture" test on your blood. They might also order a culture test on a sample of 1 of these things:

Bowel movement

Urine

Skin from a rose spot

These tests do not always show for sure if you have enteric fever. Even if they are negative, your doctor might still decide to treat you for enteric fever based on your symptoms and what part of the world you have been to.

How is enteric fever treated? — Treatment involves taking antibiotic pills for up to 2 weeks. People with severe illness might need to get antibiotics through an IV (a thin tube that goes into a vein). If you are put on antibiotics to treat enteric fever, it is very important that you stay on the medicines for as long as your doctor recommends. Otherwise, the infection can come back.

Can enteric fever be prevented? — Yes. There are 2 main ways to keep from getting enteric fever:

Get the vaccine before you travel – If you are planning a trip outside of the US and Europe, ask your doctor or nurse if you need the "typhoid vaccine" or any other vaccines. The typhoid vaccine comes as 3 or 4 pills you take on different days, or as a shot you get once. The vaccine is not 100 percent effective. People can still get enteric fever even if they got the vaccine.

Be careful what you eat and drink – While traveling to places outside of the US and Europe:

Wash your hands with soap and water before eating or handling food.

Drink only bottled water or water that has been boiled for at least 1 minute.

Do not get ice in drinks, and do not eat popsicles or flavored ice.

Eat food that has been completely cooked and is still hot.

Eat only fruits that have a peel and that you wash and peel yourself. Do not eat the peels.

Do not eat raw vegetables or salads.

Do not buy food or drinks from street vendors.

More on this topic

Patient education: Food poisoning (The Basics)
Patient education: Vaccines for travel (The Basics)

Patient education: Foodborne illness (food poisoning) (Beyond the Basics)
Patient education: General travel advice (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Jun 02, 2024.
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