Typhoid disease

A Samoan woman died last week from typhoid disease and other problems but the hospital did not tell the family she had typhoid until 3 days after her death. The family is now worried that others may have been at risk when visiting her in the hospital. However, this disease is not contagious through physical contact with people. It is spread through contamination of food or water, especially where a toilet is close to drinking water. Where there is poor sanitation in some developing countries, water needs to be boiled. Good hygiene is important. People need to wash their hands very thoroughly before preparing or eating food.

It is not clear whether the woman who died had been in Samoa recently. The woman belonged to a Pacific Island church in Auckland. Many of that church community have now developed typhoid. There are now 18 cases of typhoid in Auckland. Typhoid is an infection caused by a bacteria called Salmonella typhi. Symptoms include headache, fever, muscle aches and stomach pain but typhoid is hard to diagnose because these are symptoms for many other illnesses also. The usual treatment is by antibiotics.


contagious (adj) – spreads to other people by contact or through the air
contamination (n) – pollution, not clean, not pure, poison
sanitation (n) – a good system of removing toilet waste
hygiene (n) – clean practice to keep healthy
symptoms (n) – signs of an illness
diagnose (v) – identify a disease

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