What are typhoid and paratyphoid?
Typhoid and paratyphoid are illnesses caused by bacteria. Usually, they are spread through consuming water or food that is contaminated. Typhoid can become life-threatening if it is not treated.
Typhoid and paratyphoid fever are most common in parts of the world that have poor sanitation and limited access to clean water, particularly parts of India, Africa, Asia, South and Central America and the Middle East.
What are the symptoms of typhoid and paratyphoid?
Typhoid and paratyphoid have similar symptoms, but paratyphoid is milder. The symptoms of both illnesses generally develop gradually, often appearing 1 to 3 weeks after exposure.
- abdominal pain
- constipation or severe diarrhoea
- feeling extremely tired
- muscle aches and weakness
- loss of appetite
Sometimes, symptoms include:
- nausea or vomiting
- confusion or delirium.
- swollen abdomen (tummy)
- enlarged liver or spleen
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What causes typhoid and paratyphoid?
Typhoid and paratyphoid are caused by 2 different species of Salmonella bacteria: Salmonella typhi (typhoid) and Salmonella paratyphi (paratyphoid).
These bacteria are usually found in contaminated water and food. They can also be in contaminated urine or faeces (poo), or transmitted through sex or touching contaminated surfaces such as taps, toilets, cutlery, toys and nappies.
How are typhoid and paratyphoid diagnosed?
If you suspect you might have typhoid or paratyphoid, see your doctor immediately, especially if you have visited a high-risk country. A sample of your urine, faeces or blood will be tested for Salmonella typhi and Salmonella paratyphi.
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How are typhoid and paratyphoid treated?
Without treatment, typhoid and paratyphoid fever can be life-threatening. Treatment includes drinking plenty of water or oral rehydration drinks (e.g. Gastrolyte or Hydrolyte) and taking antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
Can typhoid and paratyphoid be prevented?
When travelling to developing countries, you can reduce your risk of infection by:
- eating only cooked, boiled or peeled food
- drinking only bottled or purified water — avoid ice in cold drinks
- avoiding raw food, cold seafood and meat, salads and unpasteurised dairy products
- regularly washing your hands with soap (or hand sanitiser), especially after using the toilet and before eating
There are vaccines for typhoid, both oral and by injection, which provide some protection for travellers to high-risk countries. There is no vaccine for paratyphoid fever.
Typhoid vaccination is recommended for children aged 2 and over and adults travelling to areas where typhoid is present and where food and water may be contaminated. It is also recommended for military personnel and some laboratory workers.
This table explains how the typhoid vaccine is given, who should get it, and whether it is on the National Immunisation Program Schedule. Some diseases can be prevented with different vaccines, so talk to your doctor about which one is appropriate for you.
|When to get vaccinated?||You should consult your doctor or visit a travel health clinic at least 6 and preferably 12 weeks before you leave Australia.|
|How many doses are required?||1 injection, or 3 or 4 oral doses.|
|How is it administered?||Injection or orally.|
|Is it free?||
No, there is a cost for this vaccine.
Find out more on the Department of Health website and the National Immunisation Program Schedule, and ask your doctor if you are eligible for additional free vaccines based on your situation or location.
|Common side effects||The vaccine is very safe. Possible side effects include tummy discomfort, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or a rash.|
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Last reviewed: April 2021