Oyku Cicek Butun Staff reporter, The Pawprint
Typhoid fever is a systemic infection caused by Salmonella Typhi, usually through ingestion of contaminated food or water. The illness is characterized by prolonged fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, and constipation or sometimes diarrhea. Symptoms are often non-specific and clinically non-distinguishable from other febrile illnesses. However, clinical severity varies and severe cases may lead to serious complications or even death.
It occurs predominantly in association with poor sanitation and lack of clean drinking water. According to the most recent estimates, between 11 and 21 million cases and 128 000 to 161 000 typhoid-related deaths occur annually worldwide. Typhoid is a major health issue in Pakistan and in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. Due to the urgency of the matter; in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal More than 20,000 children – aged from nine months to 16 years, took part in a trial for the vaccine. Half of the children were given the vaccine and their cases of typhoid fell by 81% in the first year of the study.
“The burden of typhoid is so huge, we’re seeing families taking children into hospital to be treated and being plunged into poverty paying for the costs of investigation and treatment with antibiotics”,said prof Andrew Pollard, who went on to state, “The arrival of this vaccine to control the disease is a pretty exciting moment.” The children in Nepal, as well as those taking part in trials in Malawi and Bangladesh, will now be followed to see how long protection lasts. Typhoid Vaccine Acceleration Consortium director Dr Kathleen Neuzil said the vaccine could “reduce disease and save lives in populations that lack clean water and improved sanitation.”
The vaccine is needed because urbanization in the world requires clean drinking water and sanitation which isn’t always possible causing typhoid fever (which is highly antibiotic resistant) to spread in great measures. There are 2 vaccines for the fever yet neither is licensed to be used on children under 2 which are most vulnerable to the illness.
In Pakistan a type of typhoid fever broke out called extensively drug-resistant (XDR) typhoid fever. The illnesses characteristics were said to send people back in time when typhoid killed many people due to not being able to be cured. “Right now in Pakistan, a strain of typhoid has developed resistance to all but one of the antibiotics we use to treat the disease, threatening to take us back to the days when typhoid killed as many as one-fifth of the people that contracted it,” Dr Seth Berkley, chief executive of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. It started in Hyderabad in Sindh province, in November 2016 and more than 10,000 people have been infected. Gavi is now paying for nine million children to be vaccinated and Sindh province will now become the first region in the world to add the vaccine to routine childhood immunizations.
Dr Berkley said: “This vaccine is a game-changer in the battle against typhoid, it also couldn’t have arrived at a better time.” “This vaccine should play a key role in bringing this dangerous outbreak under control and, once introduced into more countries’ routine immunization programs, reducing the terrible toll wrought by typhoid worldwide.” Prof Pollard added: “It is really exciting to have a new intervention, in a very rapid space of time, that can not only prevent the disease but help in the fight against antimicrobial resistance.” The vaccine is sure to help many, and is said to work fantastic so far.