The Malaysia Health Ministry’s Director-General of Health, Dr S. Subramaniam said in a statement today that there has been 32 confirmed cases of typhoid fever reported in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur since August, prompting a call for the public to be more attentive to hygiene; however, for the public not to panic.

Salmonella serotype Typhi
Typhoid image/CDC

No deaths have been reported.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Titiwangsa recorded the highest number of typhoid fever at 16 cases, followed by Kepong (8), Lembah Pantai and Cheras (four cases respectively).

“Typhoid is not something new in the country and the Health Ministry has sufficient stocks of vaccine to deal with any outbreak.” said Dr Subramaniam.

Foreigners working illegally in the food industry are believed to be the source of the current surge in typhoid fever cases here, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya. “We are still investigating the source and carriers of the disease”, Hilmi said.

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 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 antibioticsusually begin to feel better within 2 to 3 days.

Learn more about typhoid fever in this educational video