Most of the Americans who contract typhoid fever get it on vacations, so if you plan to travel internationally with your family, you may need to be vaccinated against typhoid fever. Here are four things you need to know about the vaccine.
What is typhoid fever?
Typhoid fever is a serious type of foodborne illness. You can get it by eating food that is contaminated with typhoid bacteria or by drinking water that is contaminated. You can also get it if you get too close to someone who is infected.
Typhoid fever is much worse than garden-variety food poisoning. It causes high fevers of as high as 104.9 degrees, diarrhea, and a very swollen abdomen. People who don't get treatment become delirious and may develop life-threatening symptoms like internal bleeding. Typhoid fever can kill you, or at the very least, ruin your holiday, so make sure to get vaccinated if you are traveling to a high risk area.
Who is at risk of typhoid fever?
You can get typhoid fever anywhere, but some countries present a higher risk to travelers than others. The most high-risk region is India and neighboring countries such as Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Studies have shown that 41.7 out of 100,000 travelers to this region contract typhoid fever. The Middle East is also a high-risk region: 5.91 out of 100,000 travelers get typhoid fever there.
Your behaviors can also increase your risk. If you're an adventurous traveler who likes to explore local markets and sample food from street vendors (who may have questionable hygiene practices), you will have a higher risk of getting sick than a traveler who is less adventurous.
How is the vaccine given?
The typhoid fever vaccine can be given in the form of a single injection. You'll need to wait two weeks before you're protected, so plan ahead to make sure you get vaccinated in time for your trip.
If your kids don't like needles and are over 6, they can get the typhoid vaccine in pill form. They'll need to take four pills to be protected. One pill is taken every other day for a week, and then after the last dose, they need to wait one week before they are protected. Contact a pediatric clinic, like Willow Oak Pediatrics, to make an appointment for your child.
How effective is the typhoid fever vaccine?
A meta-analysis of 17 efficacy trials that included 1,866,951 subjects found that typhoid fever vaccines were between 55% and 73% effective.
If you plan to travel to a high-risk part of the world, talk to your doctor about getting vaccinated for typhoid fever.