Typhoid is a bacterial infection of the digestive tract. The source of this disease is the faecal material of a human carrier, and it is often transmitted by person-to-person contact, especially by food handlers. Typhoid fever is an acute infectious disease, affecting only humans, and characterized by fever, septicaemia, and lesions of the cardiovascular, nervous, and digestive systems.
It was first described in the early 1800's and is prevalent in countries with poor sanitary conditions. Infection occurs when bacteria enters the mouth from the contaminated hands of a sick person or carrier of the typhoid bacillus Salmonella typhi. The bacteria multiply in milk, water, vegetables, and fruit. Treatment of typhoid fever patients includes confinement, a special bland diet, antibiotics, and systemic restorative and symptomatic drugs. Vaccination of an entire population when there are indications of an impending epidemic is an auxiliary protective measure; the main protective measures being the availability of sanitary and hygienic public facilities (especially in restaurants, grocery stores, food industry enterprises), and the education of the public in the necessity for good personal hygiene.
Typhoid is endemic to many countries. The risk of adult typhoid is greatest for international travellers going to countries with warm climates and underdeveloped sanitary facilities for sewage disposal and water treatment (especially developing countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa). School-aged children are at a higher risk of contracting the disease, although it is not as severe in children younger than 2 years old. The most recent statistics available indicate that there are fewer than 500 cases per year reported in the United States, and more than 60% of these occur in travellers to other countries.
This is one of the diseases being explored because of its value in biological warfare.