Travel Health Information Sheets

September 2012

Typhoid and paratyphoid

What is typhoid

Where is it found?

What is my risk?

What are the symptoms?

How can I reduce my risk?

Is there a vaccine?

Can it be treated



What is Typhoid?

Typhoid is an infection caused by bacteria called Salmonella typhi, which is similar to the bacteria that causes salmonella food poisoning. You can catch typhoid by eating or drinking food or water contaminated with human waste (faeces).  

Where is it?

Typhoid is found all over the world, but is more common in parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America. Small outbreaks have also been reported in Eastern Europe. Every year about 500 UK travellers come home with typhoid, usually after travelling to Africa, Bangladesh, India or Pakistan.

You can see if you are visiting a higher risk region by looking at NaTHNaC’s country information pages for your chosen destination.

What is my risk?

This depends on where you go and what you do. Long trips to high risk areas, poor hygiene facilities and visiting friends and family all increase your risk.  

What are the symptoms?

Typhoid can be a mild, flu-like illness. Nearly everyone gets a fever and a headache.

Symptoms appear about a week after you have eaten or drunk something contaminated with the bacteria and include:

  • A rose coloured body rash.
  • Chills and muscle aches.
  • Stomach pain with constipation or diarrhoea.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sickness

Complications include brain infection/meningitis (more common in young children) internal bleeding, an inflamed heart, pneumonia and seizures and death may occur. These complications are more likely if you cannot get prompt medical help.

How can I reduce my risk?                                   

Follow strict food and water hygiene advice and get the vaccine if recommended for your destination

Can it be treated?

Yes and it is very important to get urgent medical help to get the right antibiotics for typhoid as it can be fatal (although this is rare) without treatment.

After you recover, bacteria may still be present in your faeces, which mean you can spread typhoid to other people. Up to 3% of people who catch typhoid go on to become long-term carriers and need long courses of antibiotics

Is there a vaccine?

Yes - vaccination is recommended if you are going to high risk areas, especially if you are:

  • Travelling for a long time or living abroad
  • Staying in places with poor hygiene facilities
  • Visiting friends and family.

The vaccine is also advised if you work in a laboratory with typhoid bacteria.


Health Protection Agency: Typhoid.

NHS Choices: Typhoid Fever