February 23, 2020

Antibiotic Resistant Salmonella Paves the Way for Typhoid Fever Resurgence

Antibiotic resistant Salmonella is paving the way for a resurgence in typhoid fever, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The report, which compared antibiotic resistance levels during 2012 to levels between 2003-2007, found that the bacteria that causes typhoid fever, Salmonella typhi, increased resistance to quinolone drugs 68 percent in 2012.

Salmonella TyphiTyphoid fever is a serious illness spread by contaminated food and water. Symptoms usually develop one to two weeks after exposure and last up to four weeks. They include lasting fever that becomes constant, abdominal pain, muscle weakness, lethargy,  headache, and loss of appetite. Some patients also have chest congestion, constipation and a skin rash. In rare cases, internal bleeding or death can occur.

In the first half of the last century, tens of thousands of Americans were sickened by typhoid every year. Thanks to improvements in sanitation, only about 300 Americans are now diagnosed with typhoid each year, most of those cases are travel-related. Typhoid fever is common in Asia, Africa and Latin America where about 30 million people are sickened each year.

Treatment for typhoid fever is antibiotics. As Salmonella typhi continues to develop increased antibiotic resistance treatment becomes more difficult and infections tend to be more serious.

A vaccination for typhoid is available and recommended for those who plan to travel in at-risk regions. However, the vaccine is only 50 to 80 percent effective so travelers should use caution and avoid certain foods such as food served at room temperature, food from street vendors, raw, runny or soft-cooked eggs, unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables, salsa,  salad, unpasteurized dairy, wild game and tap water.


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