Typhoid fever

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection that can make you very ill. It is very easy to pass on to others. The infection is caused by Salmonella typhii.

Without quick treatment, it can make you very ill or cause death. Proper hand hygiene is the best way to protect yourself.

Typhoid is relatively rare in New Zealand. Most cases seen here are in people returning from overseas, especially from the Pacific and South Asia. Often, people with typhoid have to go to hospital to be treated.

If you are concerned about typhoid fever call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see your doctor or practice nurse.

You are most likely to get typhoid from eating food or drinking water that contains faeces or urine from someone who has the illness. Some people may be infected with typhiod but not have any symptoms. They can still pass typhoid on to others.

It is more common in developing countries. You can become infected through contact with contaminated:

  • water with sewage in it
  • shellfish from beds with sewage in them
  • raw fish, fruit and vegetables.

Sometimes, people bring food back from overseas with the typhoid bacteria in it. 

There are two vaccines available in New Zealand that reduce the chance of getting typhoid fever.  They are not funded (free). You can get them from some GP surgeries and travel medicine clinics.

Common symptoms of typhoid fever include:

  • a high temperature (39–40°C)
  • chills (feeling cold and shivery)
  • stomach pain
  • tiredness
  • headaches
  • loss of appetite
  • constipation in adults (hard poo) or diarrhoea in children (watery/loose poo)
  • muscle aches
  • a rash of small pink spots.

The symptoms usually start eight to 14 days after you have caught typhoid, but can be up to 60 days later.

If it is untreated, typhoid can have serious complications, including death.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 or see your doctor or practice nurse if you are concerned about typhoid fever. If it is diagnosed and treated early, the infection is likely to be mild and can be treated at home with antibiotics. More serious cases usually need hospital treatment.

All people with typhoid must stay away from work until they are well. This is usually 48 hours after symptoms stop. People who work in occupations where typhoid could easily spread (food handlers, water supply operators, certain health care staff), school (children), or early childhood centres (staff and children) need to stay home from work until they have been told they are no longer infectious. Other close or household contacts do not need to stay home but will need to have tests to check they are not infectious.

If you have typhoid, excellent hand hygiene is very important. Wash and dry your hands carefully with soap and water after using the toilet, and do not prepare or serve food for other people. This will lower the chance that you will pass the infection on.

Typhoid fever is a notifiable disease. This means that health professionals or laboratories will inform us when someone has it. National Public Health Service - Northern Region is responsible for investigating the source of the illness and preventing its spread. Once we are notified that someone has typhoid, we visit them, talk to them about how they may have got typhoid, provide advice on preventing spread of the disease, undertake contact tracing and arrange for testing of their faeces (poo) specimens.

Factsheet - Typhoid and Paratyphoid PDF (NPHS) - this is also available in Samoan (PDF).

Factsheet - Handwashing and hygiene PDF (NPHS) - this is also available in Samoan (PDF).

Guidance for health professionals - clearance criteria for enteric diseases PDF (NPHS)


There are specific requirements for notifiable diseases in the Auckland region.

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Last updated 24.11.2022

For health advice call Healthline for free anytime on 0800 611 116
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