The Zimbabwean health ministry says at least 10 people have died and more than 1,800 have been infected with typhoid fever since the outbreak began in October last year, according to an Eyewitness News report Thursday.
Just in the past week, 86 cases have been documented, including one fatality.
Most of these suspected infections were in the capital city of Harare and 30 percent were pre-school age children.
Typhoid fever, caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi, is a life-threatening bacterial infection. Typhoid fever is still common in the developing world, where it affects about 21 million people annually.
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 foodor 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.
Dr Sinclair says good basic hand-washing is one of the best means of protecting yourself.