Typhoid fever is a severe infection which is spread mainly from eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with the poo or pee from someone infected with typhoid.
Recommendations for Travellers
The best way to reduce your risk of becoming infected with typhoid during travel is by following:
- strict food and water precautions, including drinking safe water
- effective hand hygiene and personal hygiene measures
Some people may be recommended to have a vaccination against typhoid fever, particularly when travelling to a country where typhoid fever is common, or if they aren’t able to take sufficient care with hygiene, food or drinking water.
- you can find out if typhoid vaccination is recommended from the individual country pages
The following vaccines are available in the UK. They can provide some protection against typhoid fever.
- TYPHIM Vi is given as a single injection but cannot be given to children less than 2 years old
- Vivotif consists of 3 oral capsules which are taken every 2 days over 5 days. They cannot be given to children less than 5 years old
- ViATIM is a combined preparation which contains typhoid vaccine with hepatitis A vaccine and is given as an injection
These vaccines offer some protection against typhoid for up to three years.
Taking additional hygiene and food and water precautions is very important, even if you are fully vaccinated, as neither of these vaccines offer 100% protection.
Food and water precautions will also help protect children who are too young to be vaccinated, and protects you from other infections, such as travellers’ diarrhoea.
Overview of Disease
Typhoid fever is an infection of the gut and bloodstream caused by bacteria. It is spread from person to person, usually from eating food or drinking water that has been contaminated with the bacteria from an infected person, which is passed out of their body in their poo or (less commonly) their pee.
Typhoid can be found throughout the world but it is more common in countries that have limited access to clean water or toilets. Countries at highest risk include India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but you may also be at risk if you visit countries in others parts of Asia, Africa, the Pacific and South and Central America.
It can take 1 to 3 weeks after becoming infected for you to feel ill, so symptoms can start when you have returned home.
The main symptoms of typhoid are similar to a general upset tummy and may include:
- a high temperature (fever)
- a headache
- general aches and pains
As the infection progresses, you may begin to feel sick (nausea), lose your appetite, older children or adults may feel constipated, young children may experience diarrhoea, and some people may develop a rash.
If typhoid fever isn’t treated, symptoms can progressively get worse and serious, life threatening complications may develop.
Typhoid can be treated with antibiotics. If the infection is diagnosed early, you can usually be treated at home with tablets. People who develop complications need to be admitted to hospital.
You should seek medical attention if you develop a high temperature (fever) and any of the above symptoms, and you are travelling (or have recently travelled) abroad. You should mention to the doctor or nurses where you have been travelling.