In a follow-up on the typhoid outbreak in Auckland, the Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) reported today that the number of confirmed cases of typhoid has increased to 20.

Salmonella serotype Typhi
Typhoid image/CDC

The two newly confirmed cases are asymptomatic contacts who were identified as part of the on-going ARPHS investigation into the outbreak. Following testing they have now been reclassified as confirmed cases.

In addition, there is one probable case.  There are no cases under investigation.

All cases are connected to the same church group, and there is no evidence of people from outside this group becoming infected.

APRHS continues to work with the families and church congregation most affected by the outbreak, ensuring all members are receiving appropriate testing, advice and treatment.

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.

Learn more about typhoid fever in this educational video