In a follow-up to the typhoid outbreak in Auckland, New Zealand, which has sickened at least 11 people, health officials have reported a fatality in a Mt Roskill woman. She died in hospital on Tuesday 28 March in Auckland Hospital.

Auckland Image/Barni1 via pixabay
Image/Barni1 via pixabay

Auckland Regional Public Health Service Clinical Director Dr Julia Peters says the person was hospitalized with some serious health issues and the typhoid infection was another complicating factor.

The woman who died was a member of the Mt Roskill Samoan Assembly of God Church at the center of an outbreak of typhoid, says Dr Peters.

Other confirmed cases linked to the outbreak are being treated in hospital. They are all members of the church but lived in locations across central and south Auckland.

“We are working with the church to trace other people who may be infected and we are doing this while they are mourning the loss of one of their own,” Dr Peters says.

Dr Peters says it seems likely that, as a group of cases emerged around the same time late last week, they had been infected at the same time or place.

Typhoid fever is a disease caused by a bacterium called Salmonella typhi. In New Zealand there are very few cases of typhoid fever. In the Auckland region from 2002 to 2012, on average 27 cases were investigated per year. The majority of cases are infected while travelling overseas.

Typhoid is spread person-to-person via the faecal-oral route, or via food or water that has been contaminated. Untreated water supplies, shellfish gathered from areas where water is contaminated or food handled by a person carrying the infection are also potential sources of infection.

Typhoid infection usually begins with a fever occurring up to 60 days after infection. If the infection gets into the bloodstream it can cause an illness with fever, headache and possibly a rash. The fever may last a week or more. Gastrointestinal symptoms may not occur until 2-3 weeks into the illness.

Hospital admission is common. Antibiotics are recommended for patients who are very unwell, to treat a fever or persistent diarrhea and may be used for those who are employed on high risk occupations such as food handling, early childhood services or health care, or children attending day care. Relapse after treatment does occur from time to time.

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