Malaysian health officials have reported nine typhoid fever cases this month in Belaga, Kapit division, Sarawak, according to a Malaysian Digest report. All of the patients are hospitalized at Bintulu Hospital, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement.

Salmonella serotype Typhi
Typhoid image/CDC

“The situation is under control with no death has been reported.

“Preliminary investigations at the locality of the epidemic found that the gravity piped water supply system is not functioning well.

“The Sarawak Health Department, with the cooperation of the relevant parties, are carrying out repair works,” he 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 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.