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Prevention is the Best Medicine for Typhoid Fever

Harold Mandel's picture
The war against food poisoning in the intestines

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness which is caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. If you get hit with this illness quick treatment is necessary or it can be life threatening. Although most cases of typhoid fever occur in the developing world, this illness can actually strike anywhere where food and beverages are contaminated. An awareness of what typhoid fever is all about can help you prevent this illness.

It has been observed that reactive oxygen and nitrogen species function in host defense via mechanisms which are controversial. Varying levels of these species might be encountered by pathogens. Researchers decided to determine the impact of oxidative and nitrosative stresses on individual salmonella during the early stages of infection, reported Cell Host and Microbe.

This study was done using mouse spleen. Salmonella have been observed to encounter and respond to both oxidative and nitrosative stresses. However, the levels and impact vary widely. Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species have been found to influence dramatically varying outcomes in different salmonella-host cell encounters, which together determine the overall progression of the disease.

Typhoid fever can be a deadly disease which results from the ongoing battle which occurs between the bacterial pathogen salmonella and the immune cells of the body, reports the University of Basel in a discussion of this research. Professor Dirk Bumann’s research team at the University of Basel has now uncovered how the typhoid pathogen manages to repeatedly evade the host’s immune system.

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection which is caused by the pathogen salmonella. Salmonella is detected by the infected host’s immune system which than activates immune cells such as neutrophils and monocytes. The immune cells than infiltrate the infected tissue and enclose the infection to form an abscess. Most of the salmonella are easily killed by this immune reaction. However, some of the salmonella escape from the abscess and survive.

Other immune cells, such as macrophages, move into action in the war against the salmonella which escape the abscess. However, these macrophages produce a less effective immune response. Neil Burton, one of the research authors, has said, “Salmonella have developed a range of defense strategies to resist macrophage attacks. Many Salmonella are thus able to survive and even to replicate in macrophages.” New abscesses form around new foci of infection and some salmonella escape again, making typhoid fever particularly insidious.

What's going on with this infection is really like a war with a battle on many fronts. There is a race between salmonella and the immune system of the infected organism. Throughout this process many salmonella bacteria are killed and others survive to continue to spread the infection. The final net balance of the outcomes between the individual salmonella and immune cell encounters ultimately determines the course of the illness.

Typhoid fever occurs primarily in countries with poor hygiene. Every year more than 20 million people are infected with this disease. The illness is transmitted by ingesting food or water which is contaminated with this bacterium. Salmonella crosses the gut mucosa and spreads to other organs such as the spleen and liver once it is inside the intestine. The disease is increasingly difficult to cure due to growing antibiotic resistance. An understanding of the pathogenesis of this disease process should help to develop better strategies to prevent and treat this illness.

There is estimated 5,700 cases of typhoid fever annually in the United States, reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 75 percent of the cases in the United States are acquired while traveling internationally. Travelers from the United States to Asia, Africa, and Latin America are particularly at risk. Typhoid fever continues to be common in the developing world, where it hits about 21.5 million people each year.

If you eat food or drink beverages which have been handled by a person who is shedding Salmonella Typhi or if sewage contaminated with Salmonella Typhi bacteria gets into the water which you use for drinking or washing food, you can get typhoid fever. Typhoid fever is therefore more common in regions of the world where hand washing is less frequent and where water is likely to be contaminated with sewage. If Salmonella Typhi bacteria are eaten or drunk, they quickly multiply and spread into the bloodstream. Fever and other signs and symptoms of the illness than occurs.

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To protect yourself from typhoid fever there are two important actions you can take:

1: Avoid risky foods and drinks

2: Get vaccinated against typhoid fever

3: Watch what you eat and drink when you travel. The vaccines are not completely effective.

Remember to "Boil it, cook it, peel it, or forget it" to help prevent typhoid fever and other forms of food poisoning. Keep the following advice in mind:

1: It your drinking water is not bottled, bring it to a rolling boil for 1 minute before you
drink it. Generally bottled carbonated water is safer than uncarbonated water.

2: Unless the ice is made from bottled or boiled water, ask for drinks without ice. Also, avoid popsicles and flavored ices which may have been made with contaminated water.

3: Make certain your food has been thoroughly cooked and is still hot and steaming. Don't eat raw vegetables and fruits that cannot be peeled, such as lettuce. Lettuce can be easily contaminated and is hard to clean well.

4: Peel raw fruit or vegetables that can be peeled yourself. Wash your hands with soap first. Do not eat the peelings.

5: Avoid foods and beverages from street vendors, because it is hard to keep food clean on the street.

I have observed many travelers become very ill from typhoid fever amidst horrible outbreaks in foreign countries where this disease is prevalent. Since being hit with this illness can be very debilitating and even life threatening, I strongly advise everyone to take all of the precautions suggested when traveling and when in high risk uncleanly situations in the United States. Furthermore, due to the shocking scope of the problem of contaminated water and food worldwide, which is continuing to cause large numbers of people to be hit with this potentially deadly disease yearly, I encourage more cooperation internationally in efforts to make our water and food resources safer for everyone.

And remember to always remain cautious about all kinds of food poisoning. Food poisoning can always be lethal. Even that nice appearing delicious sushi in the supermarket or in a Japanese restaurant can cause food poisoning and even mercury poisoning, as I have reported on in a separate article for EmaxHealth.