Typhoid fever is a major public health problem in several parts of the world. Prevention has an important part in control of typhoid fever. Major focus of prevention centres on vaccination and improved sanitation.
The currently used vaccines (oral vaccine and injectable vaccine) are fairly effective for preventing typhoid fever. However none of the vaccines offer 100 percent protection and both require repeat immunisations as the effectiveness of the vaccine wanes over time. People living in a typhoid endemic area or travelling to an area where typhoid fever is endemic, should consider getting vaccinated.
Hygiene measures such as safe drinking water and improved sanitation are equally important for preventing typhoid fever as the vaccine does not provide complete protection. Be sure to follow the following guidelines for typhoid prevention.
- Wash your hands frequent with soap and water. Hand washing is the best way to control most of the infections. Wash your hands thoroughly especially before eating, handling or preparing food, and after using the toilet. If soap and water is not available an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used.
- Do not drink untreated water. Contaminated drinking water is a common source of infection in areas where typhoid is endemic. It is advisable to drink bottled water or canned or bottled carbonated beverages, wine and beer. Preferably use bottled water to brush your teeth, and try to avoid swallowing water in the shower.
- Do not eat raw fruits and vegetables (especially those you can’t peel), as fruits and vegetables washed in unsafe water can be contaminated.
- Prefer to eat hot foods (steaming hot foods) and avoid foods which have been stored or served at room temperature. Although food served even at the finest restaurants can be contaminated the risk is higher if you have food from street vendors; avoid street food.
In addition to self-protection take measures to avoid infecting others if you're recovering from typhoid. The following measures can help to keep others safe:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water especially before handling or preparing food, and after using the toilet. If soap and water is not available an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can be used. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent any infection.
- Clean all hard surfaces and household things such as door handles, remote control, hand rails, and computer keyboards regularly to remove germs.
- Do not handle or prepare food for others until your doctor says you're no longer contagious (that is not shedding typhoid bacteria).
- Do not share personal items such as towels, bed linen and napkins. Keep your utensils separately and wash them frequently in hot, soapy water.
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