Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by
the bacterium, Salmonella typhi. The illness causes:
bradycardia (slow heart rate)
Who gets typhoid fever?
Anyone can get typhoid fever if they drink water or
eat food contaminated with the S. typhi bacterium.
In the United States, about 400 cases occur each year,
and 70 percent of these are acquired while traveling
internationally. Typhoid fever is still common in the
developing world, where it affects about 12.5 million
people each year.
How is typhoid fever spread?
You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink
beverages that have been handled by a person who
is shedding S. typhi in their stool, or if sewage contaminated with S. typhi bacteria gets into the
water you use for drinking or washing food.
How soon after exposure do symptoms
Symptoms can occur within three days up to three
months after consumption of contaminated food or
water, usually in one to three weeks.
How is typhoid fever diagnosed?
Typhoid fever is diagnosed by isolating S. typhi
from blood or stool.
What is the treatment for typhoid fever?
Antibiotics are used to treat typhoid fever. People
given antibiotics usually begin to feel better in 2 to 3
days, and deaths rarely occur. However, those who
do not get treatment may continue to have fever for
weeks or months, and as many as 20 percent may
die from complications of the infection.
What is important to remember about typhoid fever
is that, even if your symptoms go away, you may
still be carrying S. typhi. If so, your illness could return, and you could pass the disease along to other
If you work at a job where you handle food
or care for small children, you may be barred legally
from going back to work until a doctor has
determined that you no longer carry any typhoid
If you are being treated for typhoid fever, it is
important to do the following:
Take the prescribed antibiotics for as long as the
doctor has asked you to take them.
Wash your hands carefully with soap and water
after using the bathroom, and do not prepare or
serve food for other people.
Have your doctor obtain stool specimens for
laboratory cultures to ensure that no S. typhi
bacteria remain in your body.
How can typhoid fever be prevented?
If you are traveling to an area where typhoid fever is
common you may want to be vaccinated against
The following precautions are recommended:
Water should be brought to a rolling boil for one
minute before drinking it.
Bottled water may also
be used (bottled carbonated water is safer than uncarbonated water).
Other safe beverages
include tea and coffee made with boiled water
and bottled beverages with no ice.
Ask for drinks without ice unless the ice is made
from bottled or boiled water.
Avoid popsicles or
flavored ices that may have been made with contaminated water.
Eat foods that have been thoroughly cooked and
are still hot and steaming.
Avoid raw vegetables and fruits that cannot be
When you eat raw fruit or vegetables that can be
peeled, peel them yourself
Wash your hands
with soap first
Do not eat the peelings
Avoid foods and beverages from street vendors.
It is difficult for food to be kept clean on the
street, and many travelers get sick from food
bought from street vendors.
A simple rule of thumb is: “Boil it, cook it, peel
it, or forget it!”
Both injectable and oral vaccines are available. Visit
a doctor or travel clinic to discuss your vaccination
options. Even if you are vaccinated, it is still important to be aware of what you are eating and
The vaccines are not 100 percent effective,
and avoiding risky foods and drinks will also help protect you against other illnesses, including cholera,
dysentery and hepatitis A.
Where can I get more information?
Contact your physician or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.
The Division of Quarantine, National Center for
Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention has information on typhoid fever and
other diseases of concern to travelers at www.cdc.gov/travel/