Many travellers believe that they need the typhoid vaccine for most travel destinations. Are you one of these travellers? Depending on your destination and itinerary you might not need it all all! Read on to find out more information about typhoid fever and who should have the vaccine.
What is typhoid fever?
Typhoid fever is a potentially serious and life threatening disease caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi. This is not the same type of salmonella that you get from undercooked chicken. Typhoid fever is most often spread through food and water contaminated by the feces of infected people who prepare food without properly washing their hands. Symptoms can occur between 6-30 days after being infected. Symptoms include gradually increasing fatigue and fever, often accompanied by headache, malaise, lack of appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, and a rash of rose-coloured spots on the torso. If treated with antibiotics more than 99% of people will recover. If left untreated it can lead to serious bleeding in the intestines which can be life threatening.
Who needs the typhoid vaccine?
The risk of typhoid is highest in developing countries with poor sanitation, especially in southern Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh). Most travellers to these destinations should have the typhoid vaccine. Other areas of risk include East and Southeast Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. The risk for travellers increases with duration of stay, for those visiting friends and relatives, for those visiting smaller villages and rural areas, and for those with adventurous eating habits. If any of those factors apply to your trip then you may need typhoid vaccine as well! Going to an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or the Caribbean? You do not need the typhoid vaccine!
What are the typhoid vaccine options?
Two types of vaccines are available to help prevent typhoid fever:
1. Oral vaccine (by mouth) – given as a series of 4 doses in capsule form and offers protection for 5 years.
2. Injection – a single dose that offers protection for 2 years.
Reactions to both vaccines are usually mild and temporary. Possible reactions to the oral vaccine may include abdominal discomfort, nausea, vomiting and rash. Reactions to the injection most often include redness, soreness, and tenderness at the injection site as well as fever and headache.
Still think you need the typhoid vaccine? Book a pre-travel consultation!
Travellers interested in being vaccinated for typhoid need to book a pre-travel consultation. During the consultation the doctor or nurse will help you determine if the typhoid vaccine is needed for your trip. The oral vaccine is not suitable for everyone, so the doctor or nurse will determine if it is right for you. There is currently a shortage from the manufacturer of the injectable typhoid vaccine. This vaccine is being reserved for those who cannot take the oral vaccine so a consultation is a must!
Don’t forget: in addition to receiving the typhoid vaccine it is also important to follow strict food and water precautions and wash your hands frequently to prevent typhoid fever.