What is typhoid?

          More than 60 years back typhoid epidemics used to claim thousands of lives every year. But now, on account of research and advancement in medical science it has been largely controlled.

          Typhoid fever is an acute infectious disease caused by the typhoid bacillus. In medical terminology it is called bacillus salmonella typhosa. It enters the body via contaminated food, water, or milk and finally reaches the blood stream. It infects the blood and poisons the system. Among its main symptoms are fever, cough, headache, skin eruption, enlargement of the spleen, and a fall in the number of white cells. There may also be a loss of appetite. Persistent fever develops which gradually rises, reaching up to 39.4°C or 40°C. After a spell of one or two weeks it starts falling. In about 30 days, the temperature becomes normal.

          Formerly, the treatment was entirely symptomatic and supportive. After 1948 specific treatment with antibiotics was developed which proved to be very effective. Medicines like Chloramphenicol or Tetracyclines provide suitable antibiotic therapy. Cold sponge baths help to control the high fever. In some severe cases, the doctor may even go in for blood transfusion or infuse blood plasma. 


          There is a special blood test that becomes positive during the second week of the disease. This is called the widel test. Also the germ can be grown in the laboratory from the patient’s blood, urine or stool, usually during the first week of the disease.

          The present day treatment of typhoid is the bed rest, intravenous fluids to combat dehydration caused by diarrhoea and appropriate doses of Chloromycetin.

          Most of the major typhoid epidemics have been spread by pollution of public water or milk supplies. The uncooked food can also be contaminated by a typhoid carrier. Flies may also carry the bacilli to food. Some of the typhoid patients continue to carry its germs even after they are cured.

          Public sanitation and personal hygienic care are vitally important to check the spread of this disease. Typhoid patient should not be allowed to handle food. Special vaccine made from dead typhoid germs can protect a person effectively for several years.