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Typhoid fever

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This is about the disease typhoid fever. See typhus for an unrelated disease with a similar name.

Typhoid fever is an illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. Very common worldwide, it is transmitted by food or water contaminated with feces from an infected person. After infection, symptoms include a high fever from 103° to 104°F (39° to 40°C), weakness, headaches, lack of appetite, severe diarrhea, stomach pains, and a rash of flat, rose-colored spots. Extreme symptoms such as intestinal perforation, delusions, and confusion also are possible. Typhoid fever can be fatal. Antibiotics, such as ampicillin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, and ciprofloxacin are commonly used in treating typhoid fever.

A person may become an asymptomatic carrier of typhoid fever, suffering no symptoms, but capable of infecting others. In 1907, Mary Mallon (known as "Typhoid Mary") became the first American carrier to be identified and traced. According to the Centers for Disease Control approximately 5% of people who contract typhoid continue to carry the disease after they recover.

When untreated, typhoid fever persists for three weeks to a month. Death occurs in between 10% and 30% of untreated cases. Vaccines for typhoid fever are available and are advised for persons traveling in regions where the disease is common (especially Asia, Africa, and Latin America).

Typhoid fever has claimed the lives of several famous people, including Franz Schubert, Mark Hanna, Wilbur Wright, Leland Stanford, Jr., and the British prince consort Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha.


  • Information from CDC:

Last updated: 05-07-2005 03:42:39
Last updated: 05-07-2005 18:09:53