How To Recognize And Prevent Typhoid Fever: 11 Steps

Typhoid fever is a potentially life-threatening disease caused by infection with Salmonella Typhi bacteria. This bacterium can be transmitted by ingesting food and drink contaminated with feces and urine of an infected person. Typhoid fever is common in developing countries with inadequate sanitation conditions (eg lack of hand washing) due to limited clean water supplies. [1] X Trusted Source Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Visit source Most cases of typhoid occur while visiting high-risk Asian, Latin American, and African countries. [2] X Research sources John A Crump, Eric Munz, James Hughes et al Global Trends in Typhoid and Paratyphoid Fever, Clinical Infectious Diseases 2010, Volume 50 (2) Pp 241-246.

Recognizing the Symptoms of Typhoid Fever

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Check for fever. The main indication of typhoid infection is a high fever between 39° to 40° C. Generally, typhoid symptoms begin to appear between 1-3 weeks after the body is exposed to the bacteria.

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Check for secondary symptoms. Other signs and symptoms of typhoid fever include headache, weakness and lethargy, abdominal pain, constipation or diarrhea, vomiting, and loss of appetite.

Some people also report the appearance of bright pink flat spots as well as a slow heart rate, usually less than 60 beats per minute.

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Visit a doctor. If you have a high fever and you don’t feel well, see your doctor immediately. Remember that if left untreated, typhoid fever can be fatal and cause death in 20% of sufferers due to complications of the disease.

If you are sick and may have typhoid fever, be sure to avoid contact with other people. Also, you may not prepare or serve food to other people.

If you are traveling overseas, you can usually contact the consulate for a list of recommended doctors (and they can also speak Indonesian).

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The doctor will confirm the diagnosis through analysis of stool or blood samples to detect the presence of Salmonella Typhi bacteria .

In places that do not have laboratory facilities, or it takes a long time for the results of the examination to be known, the doctor may check the size of your liver and spleen by pressing and tapping your organs. Enlargement of the liver and spleen is often a “positive” sign of typhoid fever.

Confirming the diagnosis is important because the fever and other symptoms that accompany typhoid fever are also similar to those of other diseases common in developing countries, such as dengue fever, malaria and cholera.

Preventing Typhoid Fever

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Avoid risky foods. While traveling to places where typhoid fever is likely to spread, one of the most important steps to protect yourself is to avoid certain foods and cooking methods. Take the following precautions to prevent you from ingesting food that may become infected:

Eat food that is well cooked and served hot. This heat can help kill bacteria.

Avoid raw, skinless fruits and vegetables. For example, vegetables such as lettuce are easily contaminated because they are difficult to wash properly, and have a large surface area and grooves and hollows that can hide bacteria.

If you want to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, peel and clean them first. Wash your hands with hot soapy water and make sure not to eat the peeled skin.

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Watch your drink. Make sure to drink water that comes from a clean and safe source. Follow these guidelines:

When drinking water, choose drinking water in sealed bottles or boil for 1 minute beforehand. In general, carbonated drinks, packaged drinks are safer than non-carbonated drinks.

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Even ice can be contaminated. So drink without ice or make sure the ice is made from bottled drinking water or water that has been boiled. Try to avoid any food made from water such as popsicles, or flavored ices that may be made from contaminated water.

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Avoid food and drinks from street vendors. Food sold on the street is difficult to keep clean, and in fact, many visitors report getting sick from eating or drinking something sold at street vendors.

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Get used to living clean and healthy. You should wash your hands frequently. If soap and water are not available, you can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean your hands. Don’t touch your face unless your hands are clean. You should also avoid close contact (such as sharing eating utensils and glasses, kissing, or hugging) with those who are sick.

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Remember important guidelines that help. As recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, remember the guidelines: “Boil, cook, peel, or keep away. ” If in doubt about the safety of a food, keep this guide in mind. Remember that caution is better than regret!

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Get vaccinated before traveling. If you plan to travel to developing countries that have the potential for you to catch typhoid fever, especially Asia, Latin America and Africa, you should get a typhoid vaccination before leaving. Visit your nearest doctor or clinic to discuss whether this step is right for you. Remember that even if you have been vaccinated before, you should still consult with your doctor to make sure your vaccinations do not need to be repeated. Generally, the typhoid vaccine will lose its effectiveness after a few years.

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There are 2 types of typhoid vaccine available, one is in capsule form and must be used 4 pieces (1 capsule every 2 days, for 8 days) with a gap of 2 days between each use, and another in the form of injections.

Both types of vaccines have the same effectiveness in preventing typhoid fever. However, the vaccine in capsule preparations can provide protection for 5 years, while the injection is only for 2 years.

Keep in mind that administration of the vaccination in capsule form must be completed 1 week before potential exposure, whereas injectable vaccines take 2 weeks.

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Know the limits for each type of vaccine. The injectable typhoid vaccine should not be given to children younger than 2 years of age, anyone who is sick at the time of the vaccination schedule, and anyone who is allergic to any component of the vaccine (consult a doctor to have this checked).

Oral capsule vaccines have even more limitations, including children under 6 years of age, those with weakened immune systems or who have recently become ill, HIV/AIDS patients, people with cancer or anyone undergoing radiation therapy, those taking antibiotics 3 days earlier, steroid users, and those who are allergic to vaccine components (consult a doctor to have this checked).

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Don’t just rely on vaccinations. Vaccination is only 50 to 80% effective in preventing typhoid fever, so be sure to take as many precautions as possible, eg by watching what you eat and drink.

Being careful in choosing food and drink can also protect you from other diseases that are transmitted through risky foods and drinks, such as hepatitis A, diarrhea, cholera, and dysentery.

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