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Up to 5% of those infected with typhoid will continue to carry the bacteria even after they have received treatment (referred to as chronic carriers) and can still spread the disease.

Typhoid - What is it?

Typhoid fever is an infection of the intestine and blood and is caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi. Most cases of typhoid fever occur in less developed countries, where poor sanitation, poor food hygiene and untreated drinking water are common. If the disease is left untreated, serious complications can develop.

Typhoid - Who is at risk?

Anyone who is not vaccinated and travelling to areas where typhoid fever is common is at risk of the disease. People who are returning to their home country to visit family and friends are at greater risk of typhoid fever than other travellers.

Travelling to areas that have a higher risk include Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and several South Pacific nations, including Papua New Guinea, and the Indian subcontinent. In Australia, less than 150 cases of typhoid fever are reported each year, with most cases occurring in those who have travelled to regions where the disease is common.

Typhoid vaccination is recommended for all travellers aged 2 years and above when visiting destinations where typhoid fever is common.

Other people may be at risk of typhoid infection. Please speak to your doctor regarding your individual circumstances.

Typhoid - How is it spread?

Typhoid fever is caused by a bacteria that is only found in humans. People infected with typhoid carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestines and pass it in their faeces. It is spread to others by the ingestion of food or water that has been contaminated by the faeces of infected people.

You can also catch typhoid if you eat food or drinks that have been handled by a person infected with typhoid, or if sewage contaminated with the bacteria gets into water that is used for drinking or washing food. Typhoid is more common in regions where water is likely to be contaminated with sewage.

Typhoid - What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of typhoid fever can develop 1 to 3 weeks (but can be as short as 3 days or as long as 60 days) after ingestion of the bacteria.  

These may be mild or severe and usually include fever, headache, generally feeling unwell, loss of appetite, muscle aches and a dry cough. Older children and adults tend to experience constipation, while younger children are more likely to suffer from diarrhoea. If the disease is left untreated it may lead to serious complications.

This is not a full list of symptoms that can occur following typhoid infection. If you feel unwell while travelling or when you return home, make sure you see a doctor as soon as possible.

Typhoid – Vaccination and Prevention

The best way to reduce the risk of typhoid infection when travelling to regions where it is common is to follow two basic measures:

1.       Avoid risky foods and drinks

Some prevention measures include:

  • drink and use safe clean water eg: only use sealed bottled water or boiled water to drink and brush teeth
  • do not  put ice in drinks unless you know it’s from safe water
  • wash hands often using soap and safe clean water
  • avoid eating  food kept at room temperature for several hours
  • avoid eating uncooked food, including salads and fruit that cannot be peeled, and seafood
  • thoroughly boil or cook food and drinks

An easy way to remember what to avoid is: If you cannot boil it, cook it or peel it - forget it.

2.       Get vaccinated

Australian health authorities recommend that all travellers aged 2 years and above are vaccinated against typhoid before visiting destinations where typhoid fever is common. Speak to your doctor for more information.

Typhoid – Treatment

Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics. If typhoid fever is not treated fever can continue for weeks and the risk of complications increase greatly.

If you have a high fever and feel very unwell when travelling or soon after returning from travel, please see your doctor as soon as possible.

It is important to plan ahead and see your doctor at least 6 to 8 weeks before you travel to discuss vaccination and travel health.




AUS/VAC/0022/15. Date of approval: April 2015.