Natural And Home Treatments For Typhoid Fever
TYPHOID fever (also known as enteric fever) is a life-threatening bacterial infection caused by Salmonella typhi, S. paratyphi A, S. paratyphi B (S. schottmülleri) and S. paratyphi C (S. hirschfeldii).
Salmonella typhi infects only humans, as animals do not carry the Salmonella typhi. Occurrence Typhoid fever was once a global problem, but today the death rate caused by typhoid fever had declined dramatically, partly due to the routine chlorination of drinking water, which started in the early 1900s.
In fact, the disease has been eradicated in most parts of the developed world. However, the incidence has been found to be very high in most tropical or developing countries. Studies have shown that up to 12.5 million people are infected with Salmonella typhi each year in most underdeveloped countries, where sanitary habits are very poor.
All age groups are susceptible to enteric fever. However, infants, the elderly and persons with compromised immune systems (HIV/AIDS patients) have a very high risk for developing the severe multi-systemic illnesses associated with typhoid fever.
Mode of Transmission The transmission occurs through consumption of foods and beverages contaminated with the faeces (or less commonly urine) of infected persons (food handlers, i.e. persons carrying the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract). Sometimes, flies may carry the bacteria from faeces to food or drinks.
It is spread through public water supplies when such is contaminated with human excreta from sewage, as well as eating shellfish from water polluted by raw sewage.
Typhoid has been transmitted congenitally, i.e. newborn babies can be infected. A few people can become carriers of S. typhi, i.e. those who recover from the typhoid fever, but continue to carry the organisms in their blood, urine, stool and other body secretions for life.
They serve as the reservoirs for the typhoid-causing bacteria and contaminate foods and drink if they handle such without first washing their hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet.
Women carriers are more in number than the men. The gall bladder and bile ducts are usually the reservoirs of Salmonella typhi infections.
As soon as the organism (salmonella typhi) is ingested through the contaminated foods and drinks, the bacteria multiply and spread from the intestinal tract, via the bloodstream to different parts of the body, the lungs, kidneys, spleen, liver, gall bladder, bile duct, lymph nodes, bones, brain, etc.
Many healthcare providers in the country are now becoming worried because of the high incidence of typhoid fever today. But if we are to look carefully, we will understand that the reasons for the increased prevalence of this disease may not be farfetched. i) In many towns and villages, due to bad roads, poor construction works, etc, there are broken pipes that distribute water from the various public water supplies.
Therefore, water for domestic uses is no longer safe for use. ii) Some of the companies that produce our sachet water may not observe all the basic hygiene rules that are required by law. iii) Most of the vegetables we find in our markets may be contaminated with human waste (faeces) either used as manures or not properly disposed of.
Some food handlers may not properly disinfect or sterilise these vegetables before using them for cooking or for preparing salads. iv) In the past, it used to be a routine public health exercise to regularly screen the food handlers in big and small hotels in order to isolate those that are carriers of the bacteria that cause typhoid fever, and such carriers are prevented from handling food until after they have been properly treated.
The practice is no longer in vogue these days. v) Even in our various homes, most people carelessly handle foods and drinks without observing the basic personal hygiene principle, like washing of the hands with soap and clean water after toileting and before handling food and drinks. (vi) Sometimes, cases of typhoid fever are diagnosed or treated poorly by incompetent healthcare practitioners.
Also, patients may sometime not be patient enough to be treated properly and fully. As soon as the condition is slightly improved, they abandon the treatment half way.
Such impatient patient may eventually become a (carrier) potent reservoir for spreading the disease or the Salmonella typhi may become highly resistant to drugs and therapies or the patients may develop complications or the condition may become difficult to eradicate later.
Symptoms After exposure to the Salmonella typhi, the symptoms start usually seven to 14 days, and these may include: – High body temperature (fever). – Severe headaches.
General feeling of unwell (malaise). – Loss of appetite for food. – Abdominal pain. If the infection is not treated, the symptoms may progress to: – A very high body temperature. – Constipation alternating with diarrhoea (adult). – Fatigue and weakness. – Rashes (Rose spots) may appear on the lower chest and abdomen.
Other symptoms may include: – Nose bleed. – Poor concentration. Diagnosis Healthcare practitioner may require the patients to do the following laboratory tests: (1) Full blood Count (FBC). Unlike in other bacterial infections, white blood cell count may decrease, and be high when there is complication.
The platelet count may also reduce. The Erythrocyte Sedimentation Rate (ESR) is usually raised out in cases of typhoid infections. (2) Blood, stool or bone marrow culture are usually carried out to help isolate the salmonella typhi. (3) Widal Test (or Widal Agglutination Test) known also as Widal –Felix-Weil Test is usually done specifically to detect the presence of typhoid antibodies in the patient’s blood.
The salmonella typhi antibodies in the patient’s blood are tested against O = somatic (body) antigen and flagella (H) antigen. To be continued A titre (antibody level) of: 1/20 = usually negative. 1/80 = mild or suspected (+). 1/80 – 1/160 = moderate (+). 1/160 – 1/320 = severe (++). Titer H (flagel) is not specific.
However, if the titer is 1/320 =, suspected Widal test is the most common test done in most routine medical laboratories. It is usually ordered for within 24 hours after the commencement of the symptoms of typhoid. However, it is important to note that Salmonella typhi antibodies may not appear in a patient’s blood stream immediately.
Therefore, any high antibody level (titer) without active/acute infection may be due to past infection or vaccination. Because of these, two sets of the tests are required- usually 10-14 days apart.