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Purdue food handler diagnosed with typhoid fever

Statement as issued Tuesday by the Indiana State Department of Health:

INDIANAPOLIS – State health officials announced today a positive case of typhoid fever in a food handler at Purdue University. Local health officials and Purdue University are working with the Indiana State Department of Health to investigate the case and assess the risk to the public.

Anyone who ate at the Boiler Bistro, John Purdue Room, or the coffee shop, Lavazza, at Marriott Hall on the Purdue campus from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25, 2013, may be at risk. Health officials advise these individuals to see a healthcare provider right away if they start to experience symptoms such as a high fever (103° to 104° F), weakness, stomach pains, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite. In some cases, a rash of flat, rose-colored spots may appear. Symptoms usually begin within 8-14 days after exposure, but could potentially appear for up to 30 days.

“Unfortunately, symptoms of typhoid fever can resemble other illnesses, so for those individuals who may have been exposed, it’s critical to see healthcare provider right away if you begin to experience symptoms,” said State Health Commissioner William VanNess II, M.D. “Be sure to tell your physician that you may have been exposed to typhoid fever.”

People are at risk of typhoid fever if they eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by someone who has Salmonella Typhi or if sewage contaminated with the bacteria gets into the water used for drinking or washing food. Typhoid fever is more common in areas where hand washing is less frequent and water can be contaminated with sewage.

The only way to know if an illness is typhoid fever is to have samples of stool or blood tested for the presence of Salmonella Typhi bacteria. If you suspect you have typhoid fever, do not prepare any food or drink for anyone or care for young children or hospitalized patients.

Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. In the United States, approximately 400 cases of Typhoid fever occur each year with 75 percent of these acquired while traveling internationally. Typhoid fever is still common in the developing world, where it affects about 21.5 million persons each year. The case being investigated recently traveled internationally and this is where the infection was acquired.

Even if symptoms disappear, people can still carry Salmonella Typhi, and the illness could return or could be passed on to other people. Typhoid fever can be successfully treated with appropriate antibiotics and persons given antibiotics usually begin to feel better within two to three days. Deaths rarely occur; however, persons who do not get treatment may continue to have fever for weeks or months. If left untreated, typhoid fever may be fatal.

For more information about typhoid fever, visit www.in.gov/isdh/25418.htm. To visit the Indiana State Department of Health, go to www.StateHealth.in.gov

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