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Beware of typhoid fever: Symptoms often mistaken for malaria, dengue

<p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><img src="/nairobi/PublishingImages/blood%20clots%20body%20image.jpg" alt="" style="margin: 5px;"/></span> </p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">I have seen many cases of typhoid disease. Typhoid fever, also known as enteric fever, is caused by Salmonella bacteria. It presents itself with symptoms that are almost similar to several other tropical diseases like malaria and dengue fever.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Some of the symptoms include malaise, muscle pains, fever, headaches, nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">It is important to get a proper diagnosis. Diagnosis of typhoid is based on clinical suspicion together with diagnostic testing including blood cultures and stool antigen testing.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">If a case of typhoid is confirmed, treatment includes a course of antibiotics and other supportive care may be required. It is important for the patient to follow the treatment plan to ensure full recovery.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">There however various steps that can be taken to prevent typhoid. Community preventative strategies include proper food handling, especially of meat and dairy products. This means washing hands before handling food, cooking meat thoroughly and avoiding cross-contamination.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Prevention of typhoid is also possible through vaccination. Travellers to regions with higher prevalence are usually encouraged to get a vaccination before travel. Vaccines protect against typhoid fever. They can be given as an injection or taken orally. However, they are not 100 per cent effective and do not provide lifelong protection.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">In my experience, education is key to preventing the spread of typhoid disease. By teaching people about proper food handling and hygiene practices, we can reduce the risk of infection.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">Risk factors for typhoid include living in or travelling to areas where typhoid fever is established, working as a clinical microbiologist handling Salmonella Typhi bacterium, having close contact with someone who is infected or has recently been infected with typhoid fever and drinking water polluted by sewage that contains Salmonella Typhi.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;">In conclusion, typhoid fever is a serious illness that requires prompt diagnosis and treatment. As a doctor, I have seen the impact that this disease can have on patients and their families. That is why it is important to take steps to prevent the spread of typhoid disease. By practising good hygiene and food safety measures, we can protect ourselves and our communities from this serious illness.</span></p><p><span style="font-family: helvetica;"><em><strong>By Dr Ajua Nkeng is a consultant Gastroenterologist at the Aga Khan University Hospital and Gastro Hub Clinic.</strong></em>

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