A Fit Traveller: Why Take a Typhoid Fever Vaccination?

Typhoid fever is a serious, life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi.

Up to 75 percent of cases are contracted while traveling internationally, with the disease still common in developing regions where an estimated 21.5 million people are affected every year. The bacteria Salmonella Typhi lives in humans only, and anyone who contracts the Typhoid fever illness will have the bacteria in their intestinal tract and in their blood. A small number of people recover from Typhoid fever but still carry the bacteria – they are known as carriers – with both ill people and carriers shedding the Salmonella Typhi bacteria in their faeces.

Why vaccinate against Typhoid fever?

It is very wise to be vaccinated against Typhoid fever rather than risk contracting this life-threatening illness. If you’re going to travel and be accommodated by local people in parts of the world where Typhoid fever is common, or if you will be working with them, vaccination is strongly recommended, especially if the sanitation facilities and food hygiene is poor. Vaccination is not 100 percent effective in preventing the disease but lessens the risk of infection by a large degree.

What vaccines are used to help prevent Typhoid?

According to the Australian Immunisation Handbook,[1] the Typhoid vaccines are:

  • Typherix (injection)
  • Typhim Vi (injection
  • Vivotif Oral (3 pills taken orally)

And a combination vaccine which includes Hepatitis A and S. Typhi:

  • Vivaxim (injection) for anyone aged 15 years or older.

With Vivaxim, you’re protected against Hepatitis A for a year and against Typhoid for three years.

Which countries are affected by Typhoid?

Typhoid fever occurs around the world, but the disease is much more likely in countries and regions where the sanitation and hygiene are poor, making them high-risk areas such as Pakistan or Bangladesh.

Vaccination against Typhoid fever is recommended if you’re travelling to:

  • Central and South America
  • The Indian and Subcontinent
  • Africa
  • Southeast Asia
  • The Middle East

How do the vaccines for Typhoid fever work?

The Typhoid vaccines, like most other vaccinations, will encourage and stimulate your body’s defence mechanism to create antibodies, which are proteins that fight infection. This prevents you from falling ill if you are infected with the bacteria that causes Typhoid fever. However, remember that no vaccine is 100 percent effective and some vaccines are not recommended for people with weakened immune systems, so talk to your travel doctor about your vaccination and travel plans. Typhoid vaccines are best given at least a month before you travel, as it takes time for the vaccination to become effective and protect you. A booster vaccination is advisable every three years if you intend to travel to infected areas and continue to be at high risk of infection.

Are there any side effects of Typhoid vaccine?

Severe reactions are rare for the Typhoid vaccines, but some people can feel a temporary soreness at the vaccine injection site accompanied by redness, swelling or hardness in that area. Around one in every 100 people report a fever with a high temperature of 38 degrees or more and less common side effects include:

  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhoea

Advice about Typhoid for travellers

The best advice is to be vaccinated against Typhoid if you are able, and whether vaccinated or not, follow the advice about drinking only bottled or recently boiled water, avoiding ice in drinks, avoid shellfish and salads unless the greens etc are washed in bottled or recently boiled water, boil vegetables and if eating fruit peel it yourself.

If you’re planning a trip overseas be sure to talk to your travel doctor well in advance of leaving on your journey. This is especially important if you will be travelling to destinations where there are high chances that you could contract Typhoid illness, or any other disease, as some vaccines take time to become protective.

For free, no obligation information and advice on Typhoid vaccines symptoms and treatments, call Travelvax on +61 3 0036 0164. For all your travel vaccinations and advice, book an appointment today with one of our expert travel doctors near you.

Travelvax Pty Ltd

1/85 O’Riordan St, Alexandria NSW 2015, Australia

+61 3 0036 0164