By Dr Ananya Mandal, MD
One of the main ways in which typhoid infection spreads is via contaminated water and food. The disease is not transmitted from animals and only spreads between humans. One of the primary preventive measures of typhoid is therefore ensuring clean drinking water and maintaining good hygiene and sanitation standards.
Examples of measures that can be taken in preventing typhoid are given below:
Examples of ways in which good hygiene and sanitation can be maintained include hand washing and ensuring drinking water pipes are well separated from sewage pipes.
Food should be carefully prepared and food handlers need to be especially vigilant with regard to hand washing and wearing gloves. Avoiding raw and uncooked food can also prevent the spread of typhoid and food that has been left over from a previous meal should be re-heated adequately before being eaten.
Health education and information about good hygiene practices is of crucial importance in typhoid prevention.
A vaccine against typhoid fever was developed during the Second World War by Ralph Walter Graystone Wyckoff. At present there are two vaccines against typhoid fever that have been approved by the World Health Organization for the prevention of typhoid. These include:
Live, oral Ty21a vaccine - This contains live but weakened or attenuated typhoid bacteria that can be taken orally in the form of liquid drops.
Injectable typhoid polysaccharide vaccine which is administered as an injection.
These vaccines offer around 50 to 80% protection against typhoid fever and are usually recommended in cases where people are travelling to areas where typhoid is widespread. An oral vaccine needs to be repeated every 2 years and the injection every 5 years for continued protection.
Reviewed by Sally Robertson, BSc