A typhoid outbreak that began in June in the North Korean province of Ryanggang, on the China border, has the country’s health officials struggling to contain the spread of the disease, according to a North Korea Now report.
While there is scant detail on the outbreak, the report notes that typhoid related deaths are increasing among the older people.
The outbreak is attributable to the North’s poor water supply, sewerage system and the Yalu River as many local residents in Ryanggang Province drink the water from the river without boiling it.
Typhoid fever is a potentially life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi. Salmonella typhi lives only in humans. Persons with typhoid fever carry the bacteria in their bloodstream and intestinal tract. In addition, a small number of persons, called carriers, recover from typhoid fever but continue to carry the bacteria. Both ill persons and carriers shed S.typhi in their feces.
You can get typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding S. typhi or if sewage contaminated with S. typhi bacteria gets into the water you use for drinking or washing food. Therefore, typhoid fever is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is less frequent and water is likely to be contaminated with sewage.
Typhoid fever can be successfully treated with appropriate antibiotics, and persons given antibiotics usually begin to feel better within 2 to 3 days.
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