Typhoid and paratyphoid fever are very similar infections. You are most likely to catch these infections in developing nations that have untreated water and poor sanitation.
What are typhoid and paratyphoid?
Typhoid and paratyphoid are caused by two different species of Salmonella bacteria: Salmonella typhi (typhoid) and Salmonella paratyphi (paratyphoid).
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 causes typhoid and paratyphoid?
Most people pick up typhoid and paratyphoid through contaminated water and food.
You can also be infected through contact with contaminated urine or faeces, through sex and touching contaminated surfaces such as taps, toilets, cutlery, toys and nappies.
Typhoid and paratyphoid symptoms
Typhoid and paratyphoid have similar symptoms, but paratyphoid is milder. The symptoms of both illnesses generally develop gradually, often appearing one to three weeks after exposure.
- abdominal pain
- constipation or severe diarrhoea
- swollen stomach, stomach pain
- small pink spots on the body
- feeling tired and unwell
- weight loss
These are similar to the symptoms of many other conditions.
Typhoid and paratyphoid diagnosis
If you suspect you might have typhoid or paratyphoid then see your doctor immediately, especially if you have visited high-risk countries. A sample of your urine, faeces or blood will be tested for Salmonella typhi or, Salmonella paratyphi.
Typhoid and paratyphoid treatment
Without treatment, typhoid and paratyphoid fever can be life-threatening. Treatment includes drinking plenty of water or oral rehydration drinks (e.g. Gastrolyte) and taking antibiotics prescribed by your doctor.
Typhoid and paratyphoid prevention
You can reduce your risk of infection by:
- eating only cooked, boiled or peeled food
- drinking only bottled or purified water
- 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. There are no paratyphoid vaccinations.
Last reviewed: April 2018