What is typhoid fever?
Typhoid fever is a serious disease spread by contaminated food and water. Symptoms of typhoid include lasting high fevers, weakness, stomach pains, headache, and loss of appetite. Some patients have constipation, and some have a rash. Internal bleeding and death can occur but are rare.
Who is at risk?
Typhoid fever is common in most parts of the world except in industrialized regions such as the United States, Canada, western Europe, Australia, and Japan, so travelers to the developing world should consider taking precautions. Travelers to Asia, Africa, and Latin America are especially at risk, and the highest risk for typhoid is in south Asia.
About 300 people get typhoid fever in the United States each year, and most of these people have recently traveled. About 22 million cases of typhoid fever and 200,000 related deaths occur worldwide each year.
What can travelers do to prevent typhoid fever?
Get vaccinated for typhoid:
- Ask your doctor or nurse about a typhoid vaccine. This could be pills or a shot, and your doctor will help you decide which one is best for you.
- Typhoid vaccine is only 50%-80% effective, so you should still be careful about what you eat and drink. (See tips below.)
- See Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) for more information.
Eat safe foods:
- Food that is cooked and served hot
- Hard-cooked eggs
- Fruits and vegetables you have washed in clean water or peeled yourself
- Pasteurized dairy products
- Food served at room temperature
- Food from street vendors
- Raw or soft-cooked (runny) eggs
- Raw or undercooked (rare) meat or fish
- Unwashed or unpeeled raw fruits and vegetables
- Peelings from fruit or vegetables
- Condiments (such as salsa) made with fresh ingredients
- Unpasteurized dairy products
- ”Bushmeat” (monkeys, bats, or other wild game)
Drink safe beverages:
- Bottled water that is sealed (carbonated is safer)
- Water that has been disinfected (boiled, filtered, treated)
- Ice made with bottled or disinfected water
- Bottled and sealed carbonated and sports drinks
- Hot coffee or tea
- Pasteurized milk
- Tap or well water
- Ice made with tap or well water
- Drinks made with tap or well water (such as reconstituted juice)
- Flavored ice and popsicles
- Unpasteurized milk
- Fountain drinks
For more information see Food and Water Safety.
Practice hygiene and cleanliness:
- Wash your hands often.
- If soap and water aren’t available, clean your hands with hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol).
- Don’t touch your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you need to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean.
- Try to avoid close contact, such as kissing, hugging, or sharing eating utensils or cups with people who are sick.