El Salvador Minister of Public Health, Violeta Menjívar, said that there is an epidemic outbreak of typhoid fever that has affected some 26 municipalities in the country. Deputy Minister Julio Tobles Ticas with the El Salvador Ministry of Health and Social Assistance (Minsal) was more specific saying  they have registered 644 suspected cases of typhoid fever, to date.

Salmonella serotype Typhi
Typhoid image/CDC

“The cases are reported weekly until week 21; we have 644 cases, mainly, in the municipalities of Santa Ana, Chalatenango and San Salvador, specifically, Apopa, Mejicanos, Soyapango and San Salvador. We are monitoring this where there is a higher prevalence,” Robles said last week.

This is a nearly 100 percent increase in cases compared to the number recorded during the same period last year (340).

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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.

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Typhoid fever can be successfully treated with appropriate antibiotics, and persons given antibiotics usually begin to feel better within 2 to 3 days.