Typhoid fever is a serious (and sometimes life-threatening) infection. According to Kids Health, the disease is caused by a bacteria called Salmonella typhi (S. typhi) – which are related to the salmonella bacteria that cause food poisoning. They typically live in humans and are shed through a person’s feces (poop) or urine (pee).
The site adds that the infection happens when a person eats or drinks something contaminated with the bacteria. When the bacteria gets into the body, they quickly multiply and spread into the bloodstream.
Signs and symptoms
Typhoid fever can come on suddenly or very gradually over a few weeks. The disease usually causes a high fever, a stomachache, and achiness a week or two after exposure to the bacteria (but sometimes later).
If the infection isn’t treated, a person may lose weight; develop a swollen or bloated belly; or develop a red, spotted rash on the lower chest or upper belly. Without treatment, typhoid fever may last a month or more and become very serious. In most cases, the symptoms start to go away in the third and fourth weeks, as long as the disease doesn’t cause any other health problems. Sometimes, after the illness seems gone it can come back.
After recovering from typhoid fever, some people become carriers of the bacteria. This means that they’ll have no symptoms, but do have the bacteria in their bodies and can pass it on to others.
How is typhoid fever treated?
Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics that kill the bacteria. It’s important to take the medicine for the whole time that the doctor prescribes, even if your child feels better. If you stop it too soon, some bacteria could remain.
Most kids start feeling better within 2 to 3 days of beginning treatment. Offer your child plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Kids who are severely dehydrated due to diarrhea might need to get IV (intravenous) fluids in a hospital or other medical care facility. Kids with typhoid fever should stay home until the disease has run its course and a doctor makes sure that the bacteria are gone.
Acetaminophen can also help reduce fever and make your child feel more comfortable. Call a doctor immediately if your child’s symptoms last, if they go away and come back, or if your child has any new symptoms.
Check with your local doctor on the type of vaccines available in the country. If your child is traveling to an area where typhoid fever is common, you’ll need to ask your doctor for the vaccine. Kids should be vaccinated at least 1 to 2 weeks before travel.