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What are some facts about typhoid fever?

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Quick Answer

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection most common in developing countries and spreads through contaminated water, food and drinks, according to MedlinePlus. Common symptoms include high fever, abdominal pain, diarrhea and a rash. Treatment with antibiotics is usually successful, especially when the treatment starts early in the illness.

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Full Answer

The bacteria that cause typhoid fever live in the human bloodstream and intestines, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Some people who recover from typhoid fever become carriers, meaning that the bacteria remain in the body even after recovery. A carrier or person infected with typhoid fever sheds the bacteria through his feces. Contamination happens when a person shedding the bacteria touches food or drinks that someone else then consumes. Washing food with or drinking water that is contaminated by sewage can also cause a typhoid fever infection.

Typhoid fever cases in the United States are rare, states the CDC. Infection typically occurs while traveling abroad. Getting a vaccination before traveling to developing countries is recommended, although it may only be partially effective, warns Mayo Clinic.

While antibiotics are often effective and typically make the patient start feeling better in a few days, some complications are possible, states Mayo Clinic. Intestinal holes or bleeding sometimes occur and can be life threatening. Other less common complications include heart muscle, lining or valve inflammation, pneumonia, pancreatitis, meningitis, and psychiatric problems, such as hallucinations or delirium.

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