Typhoid causes a severe fever with general effects and risk of blood poisoning. Common symptoms besides fever are muscle and headaches, constipation followed by diarrhoea, red rash, decreased consciousness or confusion. The incubation period, ie the time from infection to disease symptoms, is 10 to 14 days. The mortality rate in the disease is 10-20% unless the victim is treated with antibiotics. The disease is caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi which is excreted in the feces of infected people. The bacterium is present in contaminated water and food and infection can occur from both food and water and directly from human to human.
Only a low percentage of bacteria is required for a person to become infected, and after they have recovered, if they have not received treatment for the disease, they can still be carriers for a long time and risk infecting others. A few centuries ago, typhoid fever was common in Sweden as well, but as the standard of living has improved, the disease has almost disappeared in our country. The cases that occur are generally contracted on trips abroad. The most common is infection in India, Bangladesh or countries in the Middle East.
Who should get vaccinated?
Vaccination can be recommended for travellers who are going to stay in Africa, South America or Asia for a longer period of time or if they are going to live in simpler conditions with expected lower food standards. Even if you have been vaccinated, it is important to take preventive measures such as drinking bottled water, having careful hand hygiene and making sure that food is properly prepared and heated.
The most effective vaccine consists of capsules that you swallow. Vaccination must be started no later than 3 weeks before departure. It is a live attenuated vaccine and can be given from the age of five. You then have about 3 years of protection against the disease. In case of lack of time or condition that lowers the immune system and makes the capsules unsuitable, you can instead give an intramuscular injection with a typhoid vaccine. The injection also provides about 3 years of protection.