Typhoid in Infants – Reasons, Signs & Treatment

Typhoid in Babies – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

Medically Reviewed By
Dr. Arti Sharma (Paediatrician)
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A newborn’s immune system is not fully developed (and is in the process of development), which makes them susceptible to more viral and bacterial infection. Typhoid is a bacterial infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella typhi, which can lead to diarrhoea, fever, and vomiting, and if not treated in time, it can be fatal for little ones. In this article, we shall be discussing typhoid in babies, its symptoms, causes, treatment, and prevention.

Video: Typhoid in Babies – Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

What Is Typhoid?

Typhoid is a bacterial infection caused by the Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi) bacteria, from the family Salmonella (causes food poisoning), which causes typhoid fever. The bacteria live in humans and is shed through a person’s urine or faeces. When the bacteria enters the body, it multiplies quickly and spreads into the body’s bloodstream. Typhoid fever in children can be caused due to negligent care and exposure to infected food and water. The symptoms seen are mild to severe and can disappear within 5 days after the treatment has begun. After recovery, your child could become a carrier of the bacteria, which means he can pass the disease to other people.

Causes of Typhoid in Babies

The Salmonella Typhi bacteria attacks the central circulatory system and starts to multiply. Typhoid is an extremely infectious disease, which spreads fast and can be caused by these major reasons:

  • Food and water: Like cholera, typhoid is mainly transmitted through contaminated food and water. Babies contract the disease by consuming contaminated food or water.
  • Carrier: A baby may become infected when a carrier or an infected person touches him/her without washing their hands.
  • Food preparation: Unhygienic meals or improper storage also leads to typhoid in babies.
  • Stools: The typhoid bacteria are passed in the stools of the infected person and not washing hands after going to the toilet can lead to an infection.

While typhoid is common in children between the ages of two and five, toddlers and babies can also easily contract it. The symptoms seen in toddlers and babies can easily be confused with other illnesses. It is uncommon for solely breastfed babies to get infected as they gain immunity through their mother’s milk and are protected against contaminated food as they don’t consume it.

What Are the Symptoms of Typhoid in Babies?

The symptoms of typhoid in babies develop within a week or two after the baby has come in contact with contaminated food or water. These symptoms can last for up to 4 weeks or longer. Typhoid signs in children or babies include:

  • Persisting low-grade fever of 100.4 degrees F, which increases over time and lasts for over three days.
  • In some babies, the fever has a pattern of climbing higher as the day passes and eventually dropping by the morning.
  • Abdominal and/or stomach pain. Sometimes this leads to body pain.

  • Uneasiness, weakness, and fatigue
  • Coated tongue
  • Severe headache
  • Diarrhoea or constipation
  • Rose-coloured spots on the chest after week 1, which may be difficult to notice initially
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss in baby’s weight

These symptoms can range from mild to severe, on the basis of factors that include health, age and vaccination history.

How Is Typhoid Diagnosed?

Typhoid can be quite difficult to diagnose. If the doctor suspects that a baby has the typhoid infection, the paediatrician will check for a slow heartbeat and a swollen spleen and liver. It is likely that your baby’s blood will be tested and a stool sample will be sent to the lab. On arrival of these results, the doctor can confirm if the baby has typhoid infection.

Although there is a test called the Typhi-dot test, it isn’t used commonly. Instead, blood culture is used to diagnose the ailment. The results will take a while to arrive, which is why the paediatrician will also check the physical signs to rule out other infections such as dysentery, malaria or pneumonia.

While the blood and stool test results are awaited, it is likely that the doctor will prescribe antibiotics for your baby. Delaying medication or treatment strategies will increase the risk of developing complications.

When to Seek Immediate Care

If your baby shows signs of high fever, uneasiness, persistent vomiting and diarrhoea, you must consult a doctor. Even if the symptoms are mild, it is advisable see a doctor to nip any infection in the bud.

Complications of Typhoid in Babies

If typhoid fever isn’t treated immediately, it can lead to several complications, especially if a child has been ill for over two weeks. If typhoid infection is not treated in time, it can also prove to be fatal. The complications of typhoid in infants include:

  • Bleeding in the intestines and stomach
  • Shock and confusion
  • Blood poisoning
  • Bronchitis

  • Meningitis
  • Coma
  • Pneumonia
  • Infections in the kidney or gall bladder
  • Cholecystitis or gall bladder inflammation
  • Inflammation of the pancreas
  • Myocarditis or the inflammation of heart muscles
  • Delirium
  • Inflammation of the valves and lining in the heart

Treating Typhoid in Infants

Once typhoid is diagnosed, the baby’s paediatrician may prescribe a list of antibiotics to kill the bacteria. The treatment for typhoid fever in children includes administering medicines for up to two weeks, or the duration it is prescribed for. It is advisable to not buy these antibiotics over the counter or self-medicate. The doctor’s prescription will ensure that your baby or toddler gets the right type of medication and the correct dosage based on his/her age and weight.

If your little one is severely ill and cannot eat or drink, the doctor will suggest that he/she be admitted to the hospital. Fluids, antibiotics, and nutrients will be given to the baby through a drip. However, most of the babies and toddlers can be taken care of at home during their recovery phase. It is essential to ensure that your little one is given the full course of antibiotics. While at home, your baby can recover faster if you follow these tips:

  • Ensure your baby gets enough food and fluids: The typhoid fever will leave your baby devoid of essential fluids lost during sweating, vomiting, and diarrhoea. So ensure that your baby drinks enough water. The paediatrician might also suggest the oral rehydration solution (ORS) for your little one. A baby with typhoid infection may experience a loss in appetite, it is essential that he/she gets regular nutrition to retain energy levels in order to recover. If your baby is still being breastfed, offer breast milk frequently or let the baby nurse for as long as possible. For toddlers, meals must be broken down into smaller portions and distributed throughout the day.
  • Make sure your baby gets enough rest: Your baby needs a lot of rest while recovering from the fever until the symptoms have completely passed. This helps the body become strong faster.
  • Sponge bath your baby: If you don’t wish to bathe your baby every day when he is ill, you must sponge bath him every day or every alternate day. Change clothing every day so your baby feels refreshed and clean.

Are There Any Preventive Measures?

The Government of Indian along with the Indian Academy of Paediatrics has recommended a vaccine for the prevention of typhoid. It is administered to babies between the ages of 9 and 12 months. Two booster injections are given in a span of two years, between 4 and 6 years. Although the vaccine is an important preventive measure, there are few other steps that help as well.

  • Use Clean Water: Ensure that your family and baby always drink and use clean water. Contaminated and unclean water is the key to most illnesses. Boil the water or filter it before giving it to your baby.
  • Ensure Your Baby Gets Proper Nutrition: There is no evidence that typhoid is transmitted through breast milk. Therefore, continue to breastfeed your baby. If your little one is older, provide varied, healthy meals that include proteins, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables with every meal.
  • Maintain Hygiene: You must follow good hygiene and wash hands thoroughly with water and soap before eating, cooking, feeding the baby, after using the toilet, after touching pets, and after changing the baby’s nappy. Bathe the baby daily to keep the germs away. Keep the kitchen and surfaces clean and tidy and throw away expired food products.

What Are the Typhoid Vaccines?

Typhoid is quite a common illness in India, Southeast Asia, and Papua New Guinea. If you are travelling to these countries or live in them, your baby could be at a greater risk of contracting this disease. The right type of vaccination will protect your baby from being infected with the Salmonella Typhi bacteria. The two types of vaccines that are available for children include:

  • Injection: This type of vaccine is injected into the arms of children up to two years of age.
  • Oral: Vivotif oral or other oral vaccines are given to children who are six years or older.

The vaccines offer protection to the child for up to three years. Ensure that your child is vaccinated during the initial years of development to avoid an infection.

If typhoid is diagnosed at the right time, your baby has a greater chance of recovery. When delayed, typhoid can be fatal. Hence, even a small health concern should be discussed with a doctor to avoid any complications. Also, you must take good care of your little one, which you already do, and take preventive measures to keep the disease at bay.

Also Read:
Typhoid in Children
Diarrhoea in Babies
Typhoid Vaccine for Kids

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