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Typhoid Fever

How Is Typhoid Fever Treated?

Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics which kill the Salmonella bacteria. Prior to the use of antibiotics, the fatality rate was 20%. Death occurred from overwhelming infection, pneumonia, intestinal bleeding, or intestinal perforation. With antibiotics and supportive care, mortality has been reduced to 1%-2%. With appropriate antibiotic therapy, there is usually improvement within one to two days and recovery within seven to 10 days.

Several antibiotics are effective for the treatment of typhoid fever. Chloramphenicol was the original drug of choice for many years. Because of rare serious side effects, chloramphenicol has been replaced by other effective antibiotics. The choice of antibiotics is guided by identifying the geographic region where the infection was contracted (certain strains from South America show a significant resistance to some antibiotics.) If relapses occur, patients are retreated with antibiotics.

Those who become chronically ill (about 3%-5% of those infected), can be treated with prolonged antibiotics. Often, removal of the gallbladder, the site of chronic infection, will provide a cure.

For those traveling to high-risk areas, vaccines are now available.

Typhoid Fever At A Glance

  • Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonellae typhi bacteria.
  • Typhoid fever is contracted by the ingestion of contaminated food or water.
  • Diagnosis of typhoid fever is made when the Salmonella bacteria are detected with a stool culture.
  • Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics.
  • Typhoid fever symptoms are poor appetite, headaches, generalized aches and pains, fever, and lethargy.
  • Approximately 3%-5% of patients become carriers of the bacteria after the acute illness.

 

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WebMD Medical Reference from MedicineNet

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on May 20, 2012

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