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Everything you need to know about typhoid fever and how to treat it

Washing hands often can be used as a preventative measure in contracting typhoid fever. File Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Washing hands often can be used as a preventative measure in contracting typhoid fever. File Picture: African News Agency(ANA)

Published Feb 21, 2022

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Cape Town: Last week, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) announced an outbreak of enteric fever (commonly known as typhoid fever) in the Western Cape and North West provinces.

The Western Cape has reported 64 cases in three separate outbreaks in the Cape Town Metro health district, the Cape Winelands and the Garden Route. The North West has reported 18 cases in the Dr Kenneth Kaunda district.

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What is typhoid fever?

Typhoid fever is endemic to South Africa and is caused by Salmonella Typhi.

The disease is usually spread through contaminated water or food. Once the bacteria has been ingested, it multiplies and enters the bloodstream and intestinal tract.

Typhoid fever can be confirmed through blood testing.

What are the symptoms?

Persons with typhoid fever will have the following symptoms: prolonged high fever, fatigue, headache, nausea, abdominal pain, and constipation or diarrhoea.

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Some patients may have a rash. Severe cases can lead to serious complications and fatality.

How can typhoid fever be treated?

Patients can treat the disease by taking antibiotics as prescribed by health professionals.

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Washing hands with soap and water after using the bathroom or preparing food.

Not preparing or serving others food, the World Health Organization (WHO) believes this will lower the chance of passing the infection on to someone else.

Having a health-care professional test whether the Salmonella Typhi bacteria has remained in your body.

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How can you arm yourself against typhoid fever?

Individuals can get vaccinated against the disease. An injectable vaccine based on the purified antigen is available for people aged two years and older. A live attenuated oral vaccine in capsule formulation is available for people aged five and older.

* Make sure all food consumed is properly cooked.

* Avoid consuming raw milk products, drink only pasteurised or boiled milk.

* Avoid ice, unless you’re sure the water is safe for drinking.

* If the safety of the water is questionable, boil the water before drinking.

* Wash hands thoroughly and frequently using soap.

* Wash fruit and vegetables carefully before consuming it.

* WHO advises fruits and vegetables eaten raw should be peeled.

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