What Is Typhoid?

Typhoid (or typhoid fever) is a life-threatening bacterial disease. You get typhoid by:

  • Drinking water contaminated with sewage
  • Eating food washed in water contaminated with sewage

Typhoid is more common in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, but it does occur in the US. The vaccine doesn’t cover 100% of infections.

Common symptoms involve:

  • High fever—up to 103°F-104°F (39.4°C-40°C)
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Stomach pains
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Rash

Antibiotics treat typhoid. Without them, symptoms will linger for weeks or months. This can cause further health problems.

What Is the Typhoid Vaccine?

There are 2 types:

  • Inactivated:
    • Given as a shot
    • Not for children under 2 years old
    • Needed at least 14-21 days before traveling to places where typhoid is common
    • Booster shots every 2 years if living or staying in places where typhoid is common
  • Live, weakened:
    • Given by mouth
    • Not for children under 6 years old
    • Needs 4 doses with a day off between each dose
    • Booster dose every 5 years

Who Should Get Vaccinated and When?

The vaccine is for those who:

  • Live in or travel to places where typhoid is common
  • Are in close contact with those who have or carry typhoid
  • Work with the bacteria

What Are the Risks Associated With the Typhoid Vaccine?

Minor reactions from the shot may involve:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Redness or swelling at the shot site

Minor reactions from the oral vaccine may involve:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Belly pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rash

A rare, serious allergic reaction may cause:

  • Changes in behavior
  • Extremely high fever
  • Breathing problems, hoarseness, and wheezing
  • Hives
  • Pale skin
  • Weakness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Lightheadedness

Who Should Not Get Vaccinated?

  • The shot:
    • Previous allergic reactions to typhoid vaccines
    • Children under 2 years old
  • Oral vaccine:
    • Previous allergic reactions to typhoid vaccines
    • Children under 6 years old
    • Are taking certain antibiotics
    • Have weak immunity from a health condition or its care

If you are in a high-risk group and need the vaccine, talk to your doctor about the risks.

What Other Ways Can Typhoid Be Prevented Besides Vaccination?

To help lower your chances of typhoid:

  • Wash your hands often, especially before handling food
  • Drink and use bottled water
  • Boil water before using or drinking it if you can’t find bottled water
  • If you aren’t sure if the water is safe, don’t use or drink it
  • Carefully wash food with clean water
  • Carefully cook food
  • Don’t eat raw fruits or vegetables that can’t be peeled

What Happens in the Event of an Outbreak?

Health officials will look into the source of an outbreak. This may involve people and places in food service and day care. They will also teach people how to properly wash their hands and prepare food.

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