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Typhoid fever

Learn about typhoid fever, who is at risk, and how it spreads.

About typhoid fever

Typhoid fever is caused by Salmonella typhi bacteria.

Symptoms vary from mild to severe.

  • In developing countries, as many as 1 out of 10 people die if they get typhoid.
  • In Canada, or countries with more advanced medical care, less than 1 out of 100 people who get typhoid die.

About 1 out of 20 people can have a long-term (chronic) infection. If you have a chronic infection, you can carry the bacteria for months or years and spread it to others, even if you don’t look or feel sick.

Who is most at risk?

People who travel to countries with high risk of typhoid such as South Asia are at the highest risk of getting typhoid, especially:

  • children
  • long-term travellers
  • people staying in homes of friends or relatives
  • people who have low stomach acid because of medicine or a health condition

People with certain health conditions, such as having no spleen, have a higher risk of serious illness.

How it spreads

Typhoid spreads by infected stool (or sometimes urine) getting onto your hands or into food and water, and then into your mouth.

Common foods that may spread typhoid include:

  • unsafe (contaminated) water
  • shellfish, especially oysters, from contaminated areas
  • raw fruits and vegetables that have been fertilized with human stool
  • contaminated milk and milk products
Current as of: June 30, 2023
Author: Provincial Immunization Program, Alberta Health Services
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