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One of the best times of any woman’s life is when she gets pregnant. Nothing is as exciting as being able to grow another little being in your own body and then give birth to a new ‘life’. Nevertheless, pregnant women have generally been advised to take a lot of care during pregnancy as a number of diseases can be contracted during the nine months.
One such disease is typhoid. Typhoid in any stage of life is detrimental. It is however especially more so during pregnancy. Since the body is generally less stronger than usual during pregnancy, typhoid is more harmful to the mother and in turn the baby too.
Following is a holistic list of how typhoid can be kept at bay, causes of typhoid as well as effective ways to treat it so as to not harm the mother or the baby.
What is Typhoid?
Enteric fever which is most commonly known as typhoid is a kind of fever caused by Salmonella typhi. It is actually a bacterial infection that spreads rather easily. The bacteria generally spreads from the intestines, multiplying as it progresses in the bloodstream and gradually affects the organs.
The lesser of two evils is paratyphoid. This is another disease with the same kind of findings, though the effects are generally milder. The same bacteria Salmonella typhi that causes typhoid also causes food poisoning.
How Does Typhoid Infection Spread?
Read on to find out how this serious bacterial infection spreads.
- Poor living conditions: Flooding in the house, combined with poor sewage disposal is a likely reason that typhoid can spread. Contaminated drinking water that is not properly treated for killing germs is as much responsible.
- Raw foods and milk products: Raw fruits and vegetables that come from places that may use poisonous fertiliser and farms irrigated with sewage water, if not washed properly before eating, can cause typhoid to spread. Raw milk products breed Salmonella bacteria that causes typhoid.
- Poor hygiene practices: Typhoid spreads easily through faecal-oral transmission. Poor hygiene practices such as not washing hands after using a bathroom and using public toilets that are dirty may certainly give you the disease.
Is typhoid contagious? Yes! Typhoid is a highly contagious disease. Typhoid can easily spread through hand to mouth transmission. This means that if you share anything with an infected person, there is a good chance that you may contract the disease.
Since typhoid can be contracted in poor living conditions, a large number of people can be affected, giving way to an epidemic.
How is Typhoid Vaccine Taken During Pregnancy?
As mentioned before, pregnancy naturally decreases the strength of a female body. Besides that, if you indeed run a risk of contracting typhoid from exposure, vaccination is available in order to prevent the same.
Instead of a live vaccine that runs a high chance of being detrimental to your baby, expecting mothers are suggested to go by the inactivated polysaccharide vaccine type Vi. Mothers are advised to get vaccinated at least two weeks before the threat of exposure.
What are the Causes?
As discussed earlier, typhoid is a kind of fever that is mostly caused by poor hygiene and lack of sanitation. Poor quality of drinking water is probably one of the major causes of contracting the bacteria.
Human waste if infected with the bacteria is also a reason why typhoid is caused. Using public toilets that have no sanitation can also cause typhoid. Basically, any contact in any form with an infected person or exposure to areas where hygiene lacks is a sure shot threat to contracting this highly contagious disease.
Signs and Symptoms
There are quite a few signs and symptoms that can help understand that you may have contracted typhoid.
- High fever combined with vomiting
- Weakness and exhaustion
- Fast and severe weight-loss
- Loss of hunger
- Severe abdominal pain
- Bouts of headache
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Chest Congestion
The usual signs as stated above may be used to diagnose the presence of the bacteria in a human system in most cases. However, in more complicated cases, the usual signs may not be able to establish the onset of typhoid in a person’s system.
This is why blood tests or blood cultures are used to determine if a person has typhoid. Sometimes tests are also conducted using urine or faeces samples. Your doctor may also ask you to take a haemoglobin, bone marrow or a Widal test in order to determine the disease correctly.
Treatment of Typhoid
Generally, a good course of suitable antibiotics can help treat typhoid effectively. The usual time period for treating typhoid is 7-14 days. Sometimes, it is mostly the fever that you can really take medicines for.
For the rest of the symptoms, good care at home with a proper pregnancy diet, loads of fluids and a lot of rest usually cures typhoid. The trick is to cut off exposure from the infected person so that the infection does not spread.
Nevertheless, being pregnant while contracting this disease makes things a tad complicated. The usual antibiotics used to treat typhoid are generally not given to pregnant women as it proves to be a threat to the baby. In such a scenario, it’s best to treat typhoid with third-generation cephalosporins and ampicillin/amoxicillin. However, it’s advised to choose prevention by opting for a typhoid vaccination during pregnancy before the disease can strike.
Complications of Typhoid When Pregnant
There is more than one complication surrounding typhoid during pregnancy. For starters, if typhoid goes untreated, there is a high risk of you losing your baby. The effect of typhoid can leave you weak and on a liquid diet for quite some time, making you and your baby miss out on required nutrition.
Other complications seen during pregnancy with typhoid are that your baby may be born prematurely or may be born underweight. In addition, oral active vaccinations can seriously prove dangerous for your baby.
How to Protect Yourself From Getting Typhoid
There are two words that spell the precautions to take that can protect you from contracting typhoid: sanitation and hygiene. Simple precautions such as washing hands while preparing food or eating can help you prevent it.
Other protection methods include:
- Eat well and clean food.
- Drink plenty of fluids and good safe drinking water.
- Stay away from infected persons.
- Minimise contact with infected persons and contaminated surfaces.
Will Typhoid Vaccine Cause Birth Defects?
There is no proven test that confirms that typhoid vaccine can cause birth defects unless of course, you end up choosing active vaccination instead of polysaccharide vaccine – then there is a chance of there being birth defects in your baby.
Can Typhoid Vaccine Cause Miscarriage?
There might be a chance of that happening especially if you keep the disease untreated. The preferred vaccine, however, does not pose a threat to the baby.
How does Typhoid Affect Mother & Baby?
A pregnant woman with typhoid runs a huge risk of becoming very weak due to the contraction of the disease. The mother’s body may weaken considerably making it next to impossible to complete the pregnancy. Also, since treatment includes a liquid diet mostly, it has been seen that both the mother and the baby lose out on nutrition.
As far as the baby goes, there is a huge risk of miscarriage if the disease goes untreated. In case the bacteria have reached the baby, there is a good chance that there might be some deformity at birth or the baby may be born prematurely or weigh less.
Can typhoid vaccine cause learning and behavioural problems in the child?
There are no proven studies to suggest the same.
Precautions Against Typhoid
Typhoid can be prevented by ensuring hygiene. Wash hands, drink boiled water or water from safe sources, wash vegetables and fruits, eat well-cooked food and keep toilets clean.
Are There Any Risks if The Father is Vaccinated With Typhoid
The risk of your baby being affected if the father contracts typhoid fever is almost nil. Nevertheless, the mother can be affected unless contact is kept to a minimum.
For fathers who have been vaccinated during the 1st month of pregnancy and typhoid has been successfully prevented, there is no chance of the baby being infected in any way.
The above information should be instrumental in understanding what typhoid is, how you can risk it as well as prevention, cure and vaccination. It’s best to practice good hygiene that will certainly protect you from contracting such a contagious disease.