The large outbreak of typhoid fever that has stricken some 12,000 people in Uganda has prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue a travel notice for those going to the East African country.

Salmonella serotype Typhi
Typhoid image/CDC

The cases have been reported in Kampala, Wakiso, and Mukono districts.

CDC recommends that travelers to Uganda get the typhoid vaccine before traveling to Uganda. However, due to the effectiveness of the typhoid vaccine, which stands at 50-80%, health officials urge taking appropriate water and food precautions.

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.

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