Typhoid, or typhoid fever, is a serious and potentially fatal illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi.

Typhoid can be prevented by a vaccine. Although the typhoid vaccine is effective, it cannot prevent 100% of typhoid infections.

Typhoid fever does occur within the US; however, it is more common in developing countries where water is likely to be contaminated by bacteria. It is important, particularly when traveling in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, to be aware of possible bacteria contamination of food and water.

S. typhi is contracted through drinking water that has been contaminated with sewage. It can also be ingested by eating food that has been washed in bacteria-laden water.

The most common symptoms of typhoid include:

  • High fever, usually up to 103˚F or 104˚F
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Rash

Typhoid is treated with antibiotics. Without treatment, fever and symptoms may continue for weeks or months, and death may occur as a result of complications from the bacterial infection.

There are two types of typhoid vaccines:

  • An inactivated vaccine that is injected
  • A live, weakened vaccine given orally

The inactivated vaccine is given as a shot. It should not be given to children younger than two years old. A single dose should be given at least 14 days before traveling abroad. Booster shots are needed every two years for those who continue to be in parts of the world where they would be exposed to typhoid fever.

The live typhoid vaccine is given orally. It should not be given to children younger than six years old. Four doses, with a day separating each dose, are needed. A booster dose is needed every five years.