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Typhoid Fever sample essay

As recently as March 2008, the New York Times reported that officials in Nassau County issued a health warning to anyone who have eaten at Mama Sbarro’s. Health officials have found out that a food handler at the Italian chain had typhoid fever (Fernandez, 2008).

While the health risk to the public was low, but since typhoid fever, a bacterial infection that can endanger one’s life if left untreated, is usually spread via liquids and food contaminated with feces from a carrier (Fernandez, 2008).

What It Is

According to the Department of Health Services of Oregon, typhoid fever is an illness caused by bacteria called Salmonella typhi (Department of Human Services, undated).

Dr. Jerry Balentine, DO, FACEP, added that typhoid fever may also come from a related bacterium called Salmonella paratyphi (Balentine, 2008).

On average, around 400 people in America gets the disease, 70% of which are contracted while travailing internationally. Around the world, typhoid fever affects 12.5 million people (Department of Human Services, undated).

In fact, typhoid fever is actually common in most parts of the world. The only exceptions are industrialized regions such as the U.S., Australia, Japan, western Europe and Canada.

Symptoms and Pathology

The Salmonella bacteria, once it gets into one’s body, will invade the small intestine and enter the bloodstream. It will go through the white blood cells in the liver, bone marrow and spleen, where it multiplies. It then re-enters the bloodstream (Balentine, 2008).

According to the World Health Organization, symptoms usually develops from one to three weeks after the initial exposure, and usually includes high fever, nausea, loss of appetite, headache, red spots on the chest, either diarrhea or constipation, malaise, and an enlargement of the liver and spleen (World Health Organization, undated).

The Mayo Clinic adds that those who don’t seek medical help for typhoid fever may become sicker as they enter the second stage, which is characterized by the continuance of very high fevers, severe diarrhea or constipation. In the second stage, the patient usually loses a lot of weight, and one’s abdomen may become extremely distended (Mayo Clinic, 2006).

Further into the disease’s progression, the patient may become delirious and lethargic. One may also become exhausted. Dangerous complications often develop at this stage (Mayo Clinic, 2006).

Mental dullness and meningitis have been seen in severe forms of typhoid fever (World Health Organization, undated).

Dr. Balentine adds that death can occur from overwhelming infection, intestinal bleeding or perforation, and pneumonia (Balentine, 2008).

How It Is Spread

The New York State Department of Health warns that anyone can contract typhoid fever. Travelers to other countries, however, are most at risk. On a local scale, the disease is spread via exposure to a chronic carrier (New York State Department of Health, undated).

The bacteria is usually passed in the feces, and in other cases, urine of infected people, usually in food and drinks (New York State Department of Health, undated).

Dr. Balentine explains that patients with acute typhoid fever can contaminate the water supply in his area through stool, which has a high concentration of the bacteria. The water supply will taint the food supply (Balentine, 2008).

Dr. Balentine adds that the bacteria multiplies in the liver, gallbladder, or bile ducts before it gets out of the body via the bowels. It can survive for weeks in sewage and water (Balentine, 2008).

Treatments and Control Measures

Typhoid fever responds to appropriate antibiotic therapy. The World Health Organization, however, cautions that there are several strains which are resistant to chloramphenicol and other antibiotics such as cotrimoxazole and ampicillin (World Health Organization, undated).

Relapses may occur, in which case, the patient should be treated with antibiotics yet again (Balentine, 2008).

For some, they become life-long carriers of the bacteria. The carrier state, which happens to around 5% of typhoid patients, may be treated with prolonged antibiotics. If not, a more drastic move to remove the gallbladder may be needed to cure it (Balentine, 2008).

While treatments are available, prevention is still better than a cure. The Center for Disease Control says that the danger of typhoid fever doesn’t end when the symptoms are gone. There is a possibility that one would get sick with typhoid fever again. The CDC suggests that one should continue taking the prescribed antibiotics as long as one’s doctor orders them.

To prevent the spread of the disease, the CDC suggests that the best action is to avoid risky foods and drinks and to get vaccinated against typhoid fever (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005).

The CDC also adds that vaccines, however, are not 100% effective. If one opts to get vaccinated, it should be completed at least one week before traveling. The vaccination usually lasts for several years, so booster vaccination will be needed (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005).

The CDC suggests that one should drink bottled water, and if that is not possible, drink only water that has been brought to a rolling boil for at least one minute. CDC also suggests that one avoids ice, Popsicles, eating food that has not been thoroughly cooked. Eating vegetables with its skin may also be very risky, while street foods are to be avoided altogether (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2005).

References

Balentine, Jerry. Typhoid Fever. Last updated 2008. MedicineNet.Com. Retrieved on 10 April 2008.

Fernandez, Manny. 2008. Typhoid Warning on L.I. New York Times. Retrieved on 10 April 2008.

Typhoid Fever. 2005. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved on 10 April 2008.

Typhoid Fever. Department of Human Services. Retrieved on 10 April 2008.

Typhoid Fever. 2006. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved on 10 April 2008.

Typhoid. World Health Organization. Retrieved on 10 April 2008.

Typhoid Fever. World Health Organization. Retrieved on 10 April 2008.

Typhoid Fever. 2006. New York State Department of Health. Retrieved on 10 April 2008.

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