Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella typhii. Without quick treatment, it can make you very ill or cause death.
Typhoid fever is infectious. An infected person can pass the bacteria out of their body in their faeces (poo) or, less commonly, in urine (wee). If someone else eats food or drinks water that’s been in contact with a small amount of infected faeces or urine, they can become unwell and develop typhoid fever.
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 or who may be a typhoid carrier.
Sources in some developing countries can include water with sewage in it, shellfish from beds with sewage in them, as well as raw fish, fruit and vegetables. Sometimes, people bring food back from overseas with the typhoid bacteria in it.
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.
If you work at a job where you handle food, or care for small children, you may not be able to work until it is known that you no longer carry any typhoid bacteria.
There are two vaccines available in New Zealand that reduce the chance of getting typhoid fever. They are not funded and are given at a GP surgery or travel medicine clinic.
Common symptoms of typhoid fever include:
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) are excluded from work until they have been cleared. Other close or household contacts do not need to be excluded but do need to be cleared.
Typhoid fever is a notifiable disease. This means that health professionals or laboratories will inform us when someone has it. ARPHS 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 clearance faeces specimens.
Information in other languages
Last updated 13.9.2018