More formally known as typhoid fever, this serious health condition is caused by an infection of the Salmonella Typhi bacterium. While typhoid has largely been eliminated in major western countries through the application of a vaccine, typhoid still rages through certain parts of the world, with more than 10 million new cases reported every year. In many cases, typhoid fever can be treated, reducing the mortality rate to below 5%, but if untreated, the mortality rate can rise as high as 20%. One of the most challenging parts of diagnosing typhoid fever is the delay in appearance of symptoms. You can see the first signs of typhoid anywhere from 6-30 days after exposure to the bacteria.
A mild fever can slowly grow and worsen over the course of a few days, accompanied by tiredness, headaches, weakness, stomach distress, nausea or vomiting. In some cases, patients also see a small skin rash of rose-colored spots. A loss of appetite, a dry cough and sweating are also commonly reported. In the second week of the infection, the fever remains very high and can often lead to confusion or cognitive agitation, or even delirium. By the third week, if left untreated, certain organs become inflamed, such as the liver and spleen, and gastric distress is at its worst. Diarrhea is common, internal bleeding is a much greater risk, delirium will worsen, and the abdomen will feel distended. Given that the symptoms often worsen to serious levels, it is essential to diagnose and begin treatment of typhoid fever as early as possible. The other difficult aspect of typhoid fever is that some people can be carriers without showing any signs, yet still pass along the infection to others, so containment can be difficult. Now, since typhoid has been a scourge of human populations for thousands of years, there are many viable treatment options available, many of which are explained below.