Ten people in Auckland, New Zealand have been hospitalized due to a typhoid outbreak, according to local health officials Friday.

Salmonella serotype Typhi
Typhoid image/CDC

The Auckland Regional Public Health Service (ARPHS) is tracing people who have been in contact with the confirmed cases and is following usual protocols to control the spread of the disease.

ARPHS has alerted the health sector to the outbreak. Medical Officer of Health Dr David Sinclair urges anyone with those symptoms feeling very unwell to see their doctor or an after-hours clinic.

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