Typhoid fever,(also known simply as typhoid), is a bacterial infection due to Salmonella typhi that causes symptoms. Symptoms may vary from mild to severe and usually begin six to thirty days after exposure. Often there is a gradual onset of a high fever over several days. Weakness, abdominal pain, constipation, and headaches also commonly occur. Diarrhea is uncommon and vomiting is not usually severe. Some people develop a skin rash with rose colored spots. In severe cases there may be confusion.Without treatment symptoms may last weeks or months. Other people may carry the bacterium without being affected; however, they are still able to spread the disease to others. Typhoid fever is a type of enteric fever along with paratyphoid fever.
Classically, the course of untreated typhoid fever is divided into four distinct stages, each lasting about a week. Over the course of these stages, the patient becomes exhausted and emaciated.
- In the first week, the body temperature rises slowly, and fever fluctuations are seen with relative bradycardia (Faget sign), malaise, headache, and cough. A bloody nose (epistaxis) is seen in a quarter of cases, and abdominal pain is also possible. A decrease in the number of circulating white blood cells (leukopenia) occurs with eosinopenia and relative lymphocytosis; blood cultures are positive for Salmonella typhi or S. paratyphi. The Widal test is negative in the first week.
- In the second week, the person is often too tired to get up, with high fever in plateau around 40 °C (104 °F) and bradycardia (sphygmothermic dissociation or Faget sign), classically with a dicrotic pulse wave. Delirium is frequent, often calm, but sometimes agitated. This delirium gives to typhoid the nickname of "nervous fever".Rose spots appear on the lower chest and abdomen in around a third of patients. Rhonchi are heard in lung bases.
- The abdomen is distended and painful in the right lower quadrant, where borborygmi can be heard. Diarrhea can occur in this stage: six to eight stools in a day, green, comparable to pea soup, with a characteristic smell. However, constipation is also frequent. The spleen and liver are enlarged (hepatosplenomegaly) and tender, and liver transaminases are elevated. The Widal test is strongly positive, with antiO and antiH antibodies. Blood cultures are sometimes still positive at this stage.
- (The major symptom of this fever is that the fever usually rises in the afternoon up to the first and second week.)
- In the third week of typhoid fever, a number of complications can occur:
- Intestinal haemorrhage due to bleeding in congested Peyer's patches; this can be very serious, but is usually not fatal.
- Intestinal perforation in the distal ileum: this is a very serious complication and is frequently fatal. It may occur without alarming symptoms until septicaemia or diffuse peritonitis sets in.
- Respiratory diseases such as pneumonia and acute bronchitis
- Neuropsychiatric symptoms (described as "muttering delirium" or "coma vigil"), with picking at bedclothes or imaginary objects.
- Metastatic abscesses, cholecystitis, endocarditis, and osteitis
- The fever is still very high and oscillates very little over 24 hours. Dehydration ensues, and the patient is delirious (typhoid state). One-third of affected individuals develop a macular rash on the trunk.
- Platelet count goes down slowly and risk of bleeding rises.
- By the end of third week, the fever starts subsiding (defervescence). This carries on into the fourth and final week.
The cause is the bacterium Salmonella typhi, also known as Salmonella enterica serotype typhi, growing in the intestines and blood.
The bacterium may be spread through poor hygiene habits and public sanitation conditions, and sometimes also by flying insects feeding on feces. Public education campaigns encouraging people to wash their hands after defecating and before handling food are an important component in controlling spread of the disease. According to statistics from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the chlorination of drinking water has led to dramatic decreases in the transmission of typhoid fever in the United States.
Sanitation and hygiene are the critical measures that can be taken to prevent typhoid. Typhoid does not affect animals, so transmission is only from human to human. Typhoid can only spread in environments where human feces or urine are able to come into contact with food or drinking water. Careful food preparation and washing of hands are crucial to prevent typhoid. Industrialization, and in particular, the invention of the automobile, contributed greatly to the elimination of typhoid fever, as it eliminated the public health hazards associated with having horse manure in the public street.
Two typhoid vaccines are licensed for use for the prevention of typhoid: the live, oral Ty21a vaccine (sold as Vivotif by Crucell Switzerland AG) and the injectable typhoid polysaccharide vaccine (sold as Typhim Vi by Sanofi Pasteur and 'Typherix by GlaxoSmithKline). Both are recommended for travellers to areas where typhoid is endemic. Boosters are recommended every five years for the oral vaccine and every two years for the injectable form. An older, killed-whole-cell vaccine is still used in countries where the newer preparations are not available, but this vaccine is no longer recommended for use because it has a higher rate of side effects (mainly pain and inflammation at the site of the injection).
Diagnosis is made by any blood, bone marrow or stool cultures and with the Widal test (demonstration of antibodies against Salmonella antigens O-somatic and H-flagellar). In epidemics and less wealthy countries, after excluding malaria, dysentery, or pneumonia, a therapeutic trial time with chloramphenicol is generally undertaken while awaiting the results of the Widal test and cultures of the blood and stool.
The Widal test is time-consuming, and often, when a diagnosis is reached, it is too late to start an antibiotic regimen.
The term 'enteric fever' is a collective term that refers to severe typhoid and paratyphoid.
The prognosis among persons with typhoid fever depends primarily on how early the diagnosis and initiation of the right treatment is done. Generally, untreated typhoid fever carries a mortality rate of 10%-20%. In properly treated, the mortality rate is less than 1%.
An unspecified number of patients experience permanent or long-term complications, including neuropsychiatric symptoms and high rates of gastrointestinal cancers.
Where resistance is uncommon, the treatment of choice is a fluoroquinolone such as ciprofloxacin. Otherwise, a third-generation cephalosporin such as ceftriaxone or cefotaxime is the first choice. Cefixime is a suitable oral alternative.
Typhoid fever, when properly treated, is not fatal in most cases. Antibiotics, such as ampicillin, chloramphenicol, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, amoxicillin, and ciprofloxacin, have been commonly used to treat typhoid fever in microbiology. Treatment of the disease with antibiotics reduces the case-fatality rate to about 1%.
When untreated, typhoid fever persists for three weeks to a month. Death occurs in 10% to 30% of untreated cases. In some communities, however, case-fatality rates may reach as high as 47%
Surgery is usually indicated in cases of intestinal perforation. Most surgeons prefer simple closure of the perforation with drainage of the peritoneum. Small-bowel resection is indicated for patients with multiple perforations.
If antibiotic treatment fails to eradicate the hepatobiliary carriage, the gallbladder should be resected. Cholecystectomy is not always successful in eradicating the carrier state because of persisting hepatic infection.
As resistance to ampicillin, chloramphenicol, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and streptomycin is now common, these agents have not been used as first–line treatment of typhoid fever for almost 20 years. Typhoid resistant to these agents is known as multidrug-resistant typhoid (MDR typhoid).
Ciprofloxacin resistance is an increasing problem, especially in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Many centres are shifting from using ciprofloxacin as the first line for treating suspected typhoid originating in South America, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, or Vietnam. For these people, the recommended first-line treatment is ceftriaxone. Also, azithromycin has been suggested to be better at treating typhoid in resistant populations than both fluoroquinolone drugs and ceftriaxone. Azithromycin significantly reduces relapse rates compared with ceftriaxone.
A separate problem exists with laboratory testing for reduced susceptibility to ciprofloxacin: current recommendations are that isolates should be tested simultaneously against ciprofloxacin (CIP) and against nalidixic acid (NAL), and that isolates that are sensitive to both CIP and NAL should be reported as "sensitive to ciprofloxacin", but that isolates testing sensitive to CIP but not to NAL should be reported as "reduced sensitivity to ciprofloxacin". However, an analysis of 271 isolates showed that around 18% of isolates with a reduced susceptibility to ciprofloxacin (MIC 0.125–1.0 mg/l) would not be picked up by this method. How this problem can be solved is not certain, because most laboratories around the world (including the West) are dependent on disk testing and cannot test for MICs.