What are typhoid and paratyphoid?

Typhoid and Paratyphoid are illnesses caused by the bacteria (germ) Salmonella typhi and Salmonella paratyphi. These infections occur worldwide but particularly in areas of poor sanitation and contaminated water supplies such as the Pacific Islands, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America, and Africa. Almost all typhoid and paratyphoid cases in New Zealand are caught overseas.

What are the symptoms?

Typhoid and paratyphoid cause illness in the whole body, not just the abdomen, so you may feel and get:

  • fever (high temperature)
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • sweating
  • tummy pain
  • constipation or diarrhoea
  • a red rash on the stomach and chest
  • cough

If you get sick with typhoid, you will usually get the symptoms 8 to 14 days after being infected. With paratyphoid, you will get the symptoms 1 to 10 days after being infected.


How are people infected?

By eating food or drinking water that is contaminated with faeces or urine from a person who has the illness or who may be a carrier of the bacteria.


How is it treated?

Cases usually require antibiotic treatment, often in hospital.


How do I protect myself and others?

When travelling to countries where typhoid and paratyphoid are common:

  • do not drink unsafe water, including ice and drinks mixed with water
  • do not eat from street stalls
  • ensure hot food is well cooked and eaten while still hot
  • do not eat uncooked food including fruit and vegetables (unless you are able to peel them yourself) and uncooked seafood
  • do not eat and drink unpasteurised milk or dairy foods
  • drink bottled water or boil drinking water if you are unsure of its source or safety.

It is a good idea to see a travel doctor to discuss vaccination before you leave New Zealand. For helpful information for people travelling to other countries visit the Safe Travel website.

Make sure you wash your hands with soapy water for 20 seconds, then dry well with a clean cloth or paper towel every time:

  • after going to the toilet
  • before preparing food, eating or drinking
  • after changing babies nappies.


Do I need to take time off work, school or preschool?

A Health Protection Officer will provide directions on when you can return to your work, preschool or school. Because typhoid and paratyphoid are serious illnesses some people will need to prove that they are no longer infectious by submitting faecal (poo) samples for testing.

  • Children that attend preschool or school will need to submit faecal specimens before they can return.
  • Adults that work in preschools, schools, or health care settings will need to submit faecal specimens before they can return.
  • Other adults or children may be required to submit specimens if there is concern about their ability to infect the public.

Further, all household contacts and members of the case's travel group will need to submit faecal specimens.


For more information about this illness contact a Health Protection Officer on 0800 221 555.