All over the world, people are slowly but surely feeling liberated from COVID-19 and want to get out. Thanksgiving is a beautiful holiday in one country, New Year festivities are a big deal in other places. We all want to visit family and friends or go on vacation.

In the meantime, there’s a huge increase in illness. It’s sometimes COVID-19, but there are lots of other causes too. For example, flu and respiratory diseases (RSV). In some countries, we should also include typhoid. For example, doctors in India have found that more than 10 percent of people admitted to hospitals or who are seen by their doctors have a fever because of typhoid.

Typhoid fever is mostly spread through faeces and saliva. Infected people pass the bacteria in their faeces, which can contaminate drinking water if sanitation isn’t good. Also, flies can spread typhoid from faeces to exposed food.

It takes a week to 10 days for the infection to manifest. It usually comes with a high fever (101-103°F or 38-40 o C), chills, abdominal pain, constipation (in adults) and diarrhea (in kids). There may be a red rash which can be more clearly seen in fair-skinned individuals. Some healthy adults recover from typhoid on their own without treatment. Others can have typhoid symptoms for months or become chronic carriers. Most likely to be affected are kids and young adults. People usually get immune to previous infections as they get older. You can get typhoid more than once. The second time it could be paratyphoid.

Typhoid can be prevented by drinking boiled or bottled water. Don’t eat uncooked fruits and veggies from vendors. Make sure you wash your hands before eating. Make sure you’re vaccinated against typhoid every seven years. If you’re traveling or going on a pilgrimage, make sure your immunizations are up to date. In India, typhoid is endemic. It’s better and safer to prevent than to cure.

Despite our precautions, we still get typhoid sometimes. What should we do next? Start by checking your temperature regularly with an accurate thermometer. Use temporal artery thermometers instead of Chinese IR guns, which are notoriously inaccurate. As soon as we develop a fever we should see a doctor. Most people will get antibiotics for 7-10 days and a bland diet with lots of fluids. Taking typhoid seriously is important since it can perforate the intestine, which requires surgery.