Typhoid is caused by two different species of Salmonella bacteria. It is common in countries with poor sanitation or untreated drinking water. Typhoid vaccination is strongly recommended for people visiting friends and family in less developed countries.
Typhoid and paratyphoid are diseases caused by the two different species of Salmonella bacteria. These diseases cause a similar illness. Paratyphoid infections tend to be less severe and less common than typhoid.
In Australia, most typhoid and paratyphoid infections are acquired overseas. These diseases are rare in Australia.
These infections are different to infection with other strains of Salmonella which usually causes gastroenteritis (gastro).
People may experience mild or severe symptoms. The symptoms may include:
Symptoms of typhoid usually start 8-14 days after infection. Symptoms can show as early as 3 days or as late as 60 days after infection. Symptoms of Paratyphoid usually show within 1-10 days.
If they are not treated, typhoid and paratyphoid can be fatal. It is important to speak to a doctor as soon as you have symptoms.
Most people recover fully over several weeks with treatment and symptoms usually stop in a week.
Some people even if they have no symptoms of illness continue to have bacteria in their faeces and/or urine for more than a year. These people are called carriers and can infect others.
Typhoid is more common in countries that have poor sanitation, poor hand hygiene and food handling standards and untreated drinking water.
The bacteria that cause typhoid and paratyphoid are found in the faeces (poo) of infected individuals and sometimes in their urine.
Typhoid and paratyphoid spread when people eat or drink food or water contaminated with faeces. Flies may transfer the bacteria to food, or the food may have grown in, be prepared in or stored in contaminated water.
Uncooked fruits and vegetables and shellfish should be avoided in less developed countries.
In Australia, typhoid and paratyphoid is often only found in people who travel to areas where these diseases are common.
People who return to developing countries (in particular India, Pakistan and Bangladesh) to visit friends and relatives are at greatest risk of acquiring the disease.
Those who live with an infected person, or people who have travelled with a person infected with typhoid or paratyphoid, should be tested for typhoid.
People should see their general practitioner if they develop symptoms.
Typhoid vaccination is recommended for all those aged two years and older going to countries where typhoid and paratyphoid are common.
There is no vaccination available for paratyphoid.
To diagnose typhoid and paratyphoid, your doctor or local hospital will test a blood or stool sample.
Typhoid and paratyphoid can be treated with antibiotics. Antibiotic treatment is required to treat people who have no symptoms but may carry typhoid or paratyphoid.
If symptoms are severe, hospitalisation may be needed.
For further information please call your local Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.