Everything You Need To Know About Typhoid Fever And Vaccine

Learn about typhoid fever, a bacterial infection that spreads through contaminated food and water, and the vaccine that can help prevent it. Protect yourself and others by staying informed about preventative measures for this infection.

By URLife Team
06 Apr 2023

According to a 2017 report published by the Indian Council of Medical Research, the estimated incidence of typhoid fever in India was around 4.5 per 1,000 per year. The report also found that the disease was more common in rural areas compared to urban areas. This makes it evident that typhoid fever is highly prevalent in India, and necessary measures should be taken to spread awareness about this disease.

Typhoid fever, also known as enteric fever, is a bacterial infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi (S. Typhi). The disease is characterised by high fever, headache, abdominal pain, and diarrhoea, and can be fatal if left untreated. Vaccination is the most effective way to prevent it. Here we will discuss everything you need to know about typhoid fever and the vaccine, including who should take it and when.


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Causes of Typhoid Fever

Contaminated food and water

The most common cause of typhoid fever is consuming contaminated food and water. The bacteria that cause typhoid fever can be found in food and water that has been contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. This can happen when food is prepared by someone who is infected with typhoid fever or when water is contaminated with sewage.

Person-to-person contact

Typhoid fever can also be spread from person to person through close contact. This can happen when an infected person does not wash their hands after using the toilet and then touches other objects or people. It can also be spread through intimate contact such as kissing.

Poor hygiene

Poor hygiene is a major factor in the spread of typhoid fever. People who do not wash their hands regularly or who do not practice good hygiene habits are more likely to become infected with the bacteria that cause typhoid fever.


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Symptoms of Typhoid Fever

The symptoms of typhoid fever can be mild or severe and can vary from person to person. Some common symptoms of typhoid fever include:

  • High Fever: One of the most common symptoms of typhoid fever is a high fever that can last for several days. The fever may be as high as 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Abdominal Pain: People with typhoid fever may experience abdominal pain and discomfort, especially in the lower right quadrant of the abdomen.
  • Headache: Typhoid fever can cause severe headaches that may be accompanied by nausea and vomiting.
  • Weakness and Fatigue: Typhoid fever can cause extreme weakness and fatigue, which may make it difficult for the person to perform even simple tasks.
  • Diarrhoea or Constipation: People with typhoid fever may experience either diarrhoea or constipation, or both.
  • Skin Rashes: Some people with typhoid fever may develop a skin rash that is small and rose-coloured.


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Treatment For Typhoid Fever


Antibiotics are the primary treatment for typhoid fever. They help kill the Salmonella typhi bacteria in the body. Some of the commonly prescribed antibiotics include ciprofloxacin, azithromycin, and ceftriaxone. The type of antibiotic prescribed will depend on the severity of the illness, the age of the patient, and the antibiotic resistance patterns in the area. Do not take any antibiotics without consulting a doctor. It is necessary to contact a doctor to know the dosage and the type of antibiotic required.

Fluids and Electrolytes

Typhoid fever can cause severe dehydration, which can be life-threatening. Therefore, it is essential to replace the fluids and electrolytes lost due to diarrhoea and vomiting. This can be done through oral rehydration therapy or intravenous fluids. Oral rehydration therapy involves drinking a solution of water, salts, and sugars, while intravenous fluids are given through a vein.

Nutritional Support

During typhoid fever, the body's energy and nutrient requirements increase. Therefore, it is essential to provide adequate nutrition to the patient. A balanced diet with sufficient calories, protein, and vitamins is recommended. In severe cases, the patient may need to be fed through a nasogastric tube or intravenously.


Rest is an essential part of typhoid fever treatment. The patient should avoid strenuous physical activity and rest as much as possible. This helps the body conserve energy and focus on fighting the infection.

Typhoid fever is a serious illness that requires prompt and appropriate treatment. Antibiotics, fluids and electrolytes, nutritional support, and rest are critical components of the treatment. It is essential to seek medical attention if you suspect you or someone you know may have typhoid fever. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent complications and improve the chances of a full recovery.


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Types of Typhoid Vaccines

Vaccination is an effective way to prevent typhoid fever. According to a study published in The Lancet in 2018, the Vi-polysaccharide vaccine was found to be 81.6 per cent effective in preventing typhoid fever in children aged 2-5 years in Kolkata, India. There are two types of typhoid vaccines available in India:

1. Injectable Typhoid Vaccine:

The Vi polysaccharide vaccine is an injectable vaccine that contains purified Vi capsular polysaccharide from Salmonella typhi. This vaccine is given as a single dose to individuals above two years of age. It provides protection against typhoid fever for up to three years. The vaccine is considered safe and effective, with a protection rate of up to 70-90 per cent.

2. Oral Typhoid Vaccine:

The Ty21a live attenuated vaccine is an oral vaccine that contains live attenuated Salmonella typhi. It is administered through four capsules on alternate days and provides protection against typhoid fever for up to five years. This vaccine can be given to individuals above six years of age, and it is not recommended for pregnant women, individuals with weakened immune systems, and those who are allergic to any of the components of the vaccine. The vaccine is considered safe and effective, with a protection rate of up to 50-80 per cent.

It is important to note that the typhoid vaccine does not provide complete protection against typhoid fever. Therefore, it is important to take preventive measures such as practising good hygiene and sanitation, drinking clean water, and avoiding foods and drinks that may be contaminated.

The two types of typhoid vaccines available in India, the injectable and oral vaccines, are both effective in preventing typhoid fever. The vaccine choice depends on the individual's age, preference, and medical history. It is important to consult with a healthcare professional before getting vaccinated to determine which vaccine is right for you.


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How the typhoid vaccine works

The typhoid vaccine works by stimulating the body's immune system to produce antibodies that can recognise and attack the Salmonella typhi bacteria. When a person receives the vaccine, their immune system is exposed to either the weakened live bacteria or the killed bacteria, depending on which type of vaccine they receive. This exposure triggers an immune response, which includes the production of antibodies that can recognise the bacteria if the person is ever exposed to it in the future.

When a person is exposed to the Salmonella typhi bacteria after receiving the vaccine, their immune system is able to recognise the bacteria and quickly produce the necessary antibodies to fight off the infection. This means that the person is less likely to develop typhoid fever, and if they do, their symptoms will likely be less severe.

The live attenuated vaccine works by introducing weakened bacteria into the body. The bacteria are still able to replicate, but they are not strong enough to cause illness. The body's immune system responds to the presence of the weakened bacteria by producing antibodies that can recognise and attack the Salmonella typhi bacteria.

The inactivated vaccine works by introducing killed bacteria into the body. The bacteria cannot replicate, but they still contain enough bacterial antigens to stimulate an immune response. The body's immune system responds to the presence of the killed bacteria by producing antibodies that can recognise and attack the Salmonella typhi bacteria


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Who should take the vaccine?

One of the most effective ways to prevent typhoid fever is through vaccination.

Travellers to High-Risk Areas

The typhoid vaccine is recommended for people who are travelling to areas where the risk of infection is high. These areas include most of the developing countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Travellers to these regions should get vaccinated at least two weeks before their departure to ensure that they are protected against typhoid fever.

People Who Work with Contaminated Food and Water

Typhoid fever is most commonly spread through contaminated food and water. Therefore, people who work in settings where they may come into contact with contaminated food or water should be vaccinated. This includes people who work in the food service industry, health care workers, and laboratory personnel who handle specimens.

People with Weakened Immune Systems

People with weakened immune systems are at a higher risk of contracting typhoid fever. This includes people with HIV/AIDS, cancer, or who are undergoing treatment with immunosuppressive drugs. If you have a weakened immune system, you must talk to your doctor about whether you should receive the typhoid vaccine. With UR.Life Health Risk Assessments, you can get to know better about your immune system and overall health.

Individuals Living in Endemic Areas

If you live in an area where typhoid fever is endemic, it is recommended that you receive the typhoid vaccine. This includes people who live in rural areas of developing countries where sanitation and hygiene may be poor. It is important to note that even if you have previously had typhoid fever, you should still receive the vaccine to prevent future infections.

Military Personnel

Military personnel who are deployed to areas where typhoid fever is endemic should receive the typhoid vaccine. This includes soldiers, sailors, and airmen who may be deployed to areas such as Southeast Asia or the Middle East.

The typhoid vaccine is recommended for people who are travelling to high-risk areas, working with contaminated food and water, have weakened immune systems, live in endemic areas, or are military personnel. If you fall into any of these categories, it is important to talk to your doctor about receiving the typhoid vaccine to protect yourself from this potentially serious infection.

It is important to take regular health checks to monitor your condition and see if you notice any symptoms of typhoid. This may include regular blood screenings to detect the underlying cause and disease.


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