Health authorities in Weld County, Colorado have confirmed three cases of typhoid fever among individuals who had eaten at a restaurant in Firestone in August, two which required hospitalization for their illness.

Salmonella serotype Typhi
Typhoid image/CDC

Colorado state and county health officials  believe the illness was acquired from an infected food handler at a franchised Qdoba Mexican restaurant in Firestone. Qdoba management and employees have been highly cooperative in the investigation.

The infected food handler is not working at the restaurant, does not have symptoms of the illness, and will receive appropriate medical treatment. Additional testing of current and former employees will be completed to make sure no other individuals are confirmed with the illness.

The Health Department has not received any reports of sick individuals since mid-October.

“Typhoid fever is very rare,” says Dr. Mark E. Wallace, MD MPH, Executive Director of the Weld County Health Department. “The good news is the illness is treatable with antibiotics. Simply having eaten at the restaurant is not a reason to see your health care provider. Only those currently exhibiting symptoms should contact their health care provider.”

Typhoid fever, also known as Salmonella typhi, is a life-threatening bacterial infection. In the United States, it’s estimated approximately 5,700 cases occur annually. Most cases (up to 75%) are acquired while traveling internationally. 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.

Learn more about typhoid fever in this educational video

Robert Herriman is a microbiologist and the Editor-in-Chief of Outbreak News Today and the Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch

Follow @bactiman63