An Outbreak Response Team was activated in Gauteng province, South Africa after at least four cases of typhoid fever were reported in Johannesburg this month.

South Africa/CIA
South Africa/CIA

The cases were identified in the Hillbrow, Yeoville, Edenvale and Palm Spring areas. One patient, a 27-year-old Malawian female who went home three weeks ago on holiday and returned to South Africa through Mozambique, died on January 17 in hospital, according to a Citizen report Monday.

Despite the cases, The National Institute of Communicable of Diseases says there is no Typhoid outbreak in the province. Professor Lucille Blumberg of the Institution says, “An investigation was done by the Department of Health and they assured that two of the cases were siblings and two were not related. The Typhoid might be reported but they are not related, so there isn’t an outbreak in Gauteng.”

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.

Learn more about typhoid fever in this educational video