What is typhoid?

4 min read

kid with a flu

Typhoid is a disease caused by bacteria that usually transmits from person to person through contaminated food and drink, particularly water. The bacteria can enter your bloodstream and then spread throughout your body. It’s highly contagious and can be very serious — but if caught early, typhoid can be easily treated with antibiotics.

Symptom summary

  • Chest rash.
  • Fever and chills.
  • Weakness.
  • Constipation or diarrhoea (sometimes bloody stools).
  • Headaches.
  • Delirium and hallucinations.
  • Severe fatigue.

Prevention tips


Avoid raw fruit and vegetables
Or at least the ones that you haven’t peeled yourself. Infected food is the enemy here, so be very careful. Be especially wary of lettuce as it’s easily contaminated and difficult to clean properly. Be particularly vigilant when eating and drinking outside of your home as food may not be prepared hygienically and water may not be clean.

Medical Practices

Boil your water
Always ensure that you know the quality of tap water in an area before you drink or cook with it. If you think that the water supply might be contaminated, ensure that you boil it for at least one minute before drinking or cooking with it.

Hygiene Habit

Wash your hands
As well as through the ingestion of contaminated food and drink, typhoid is also spread by ‘healthy carriers’: people who carry the disease without showing any symptoms, and people recovering from it. To help prevent the spread of typhoid, make sure that you and your loved ones practise good hand hygiene through regular handwashing with germ protection soap before eating and cooking, and after using the toilet.


  • If I’m feeling better, I must be typhoid-free…
    Even if the symptoms have gone, you can still carry the disease and pass it on. It’s vital to finish any course of antibiotics that you may have been prescribed as this will ensure that you don’t pass the disease onto others.
  • I’ve had the typhoid vaccination — so I’m immune to the disease…
    Having your whole family vaccinated is, of course, the best defence — however, the jab isn’t 100% effective so there is no substitute for being careful of what you eat and drink. Make sure that your family gets a ‘booster’ injection every two years, and that they adhere to good health and hygiene practises at all times.


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