Classic typhoid fever is a serious disease. It can be life-threatening, but antibiotics are an effective treatment.
The disease is transmitted from human to human via food or drinking water, and it's therefore mainly hygiene and sanitary conditions that determine its spread.
Typhoid fever is caused by an infection with a bacterium. When the bacterium passes down to the bowel, it penetrates through the intestinal mucosa (lining) to the underlying tissue.
There are two phases of classic typhoid fever:
- 1st phase: the patient's temperature rises gradually to 40ºC, and the general condition becomes very poor with bouts of sweating, no appetite, coughing and headache. Constipation and skin symptoms may be the clearest symptoms. Children often vomit and have diarrhoea. The first phase lasts a week and towards the end the patient shows increasing listlessness and clouding of consciousness.
- 2nd phase: in the second to third weeks of the disease, symptoms of intestinal infection are manifested and the fever remains very high and the pulse becomes weak and rapid. In the third week, the constipation is replaced by severe pea-soup-like diarrhoea. The faeces may also contain blood. It's not until the fourth or fifth week that the fever drops and the general condition slowly improves.
The bacterium is controlled with antibiotics, and in rare cases steroid medicines are also included in the treatment.
Within the hospital setting, infected people are cared for in isolation. Proper hand hygiene is the most important way of preventing further spread in hospital.Specific antibiotics such as chloramphenicol, ampicillin or ciprofloxacin are often used to treat cases of typhoid.