Typhoid fever cases are on the rise in Kuala Lumpur. In a statement released on Monday (19th October), Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had said that there have been 32 cases of typhoid fever recorded by the Kuala Lumpur Health Department since August.
The Malaysian Health Ministry has since urged public to pay attention to the level of cleanliness at shops they frequently visit, including the cleanliness of the staff and the food being served.
But what exactly is typhoid and what preventive measures can you take to avoid it?
Typhoid fever, also known simply as typhoid, is a symptomatic bacterial infection due to Salmonella typhi. Symptoms may vary from mild to severe and usually begin 6 to 30 days after exposure. Often there is a gradual onset of a high fever over several days. Weakness, abdominal pain, constipation, and headaches also commonly occur. Diarrhea and vomiting are uncommon. Some people develop a skin rash with rose-coloured spots and in severe cases, there may be confusion. Without treatment symptoms may last weeks or months.
So far, humans are the only species affected by the typhoid.
It’s best to take care during this typhoid fever outbreak in Kuala Lumpur. Here are some preventive measures:
1. Wash your hands often
Frequent hand-washing in hot, soapy water is the best way to control infection. Wash before eating or preparing food and after using the toilet. Carry an alcohol-based hand sanitizer for times when water isn’t available.
2. Avoid drinking untreated water
Contaminated drinking water is a particular problem in areas where typhoid fever is endemic. For that reason, drink only bottled water or canned or bottled carbonated beverages, wine, and beer. Carbonated bottled water is safer than uncarbonated bottled water. Ask for drinks without ice. Use bottled water to brush your teeth, and try not to swallow water in the shower.
3. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables
Because raw produce may have been washed in unsafe water, avoid fruits and vegetables that you can’t peel, especially lettuce. To be absolutely safe, you may want to avoid raw foods entirely.
4. Choose hot foods
Avoid food that’s stored or served at room temperature. Steaming hot foods are best. And although there’s no guarantee that meals served at the finest restaurants are safe, it’s best to avoid food from street vendors – it’s more likely to be contaminated.
5. Get vaccinated
Some experts believe that the best way to control the infection is to vaccinate high risk populations. A vaccine is also recommended for people travelling to nations where typhoid is widespread. At present, there are 2 vaccines against typhoid fever that have been approved by the World Health Organization for the prevention of typhoid. Ask your doctor for more details on how you can get vaccinated.
Above all, sanitation and hygiene are the critical measures that can be taken to prevent typhoid. In fact, good hygiene staves off a handful of other diseases too! If you have a high fever and feel very ill, see a doctor immediately. Typhoid fever is treated with antibiotics.