Typhoid is a rare disease in Europe; however, its occurrence in tropical countries like ours is quite frequent. It is caused by a bacteria called Salmonella typhi. Typhoid mainly affects the digestive system and gradually affects all other systems. Typhoid fever in pregnancy may affect the appetite of the pregnant woman and the growth of the fetus may be affected as well due to the low appetite of the mother.
Typhoid is contracted through contaminated food and water. Raw fruits and vegetables grown with sewage water can also transmit the disease. Typhoid is mainly seen with poor sanitation and hygiene.
Being pregnant is one of the most important and joyous stages in every woman’s life. Pregnancy makes a woman susceptible to various infections such as typhoid. Contracting typhoid can lower your immunity and is detrimental to both you and your fetus if not treated appropriately. Therefore, timely intervention is of utmost importance.
Typhoid fever in pregnancy presents with the same signs and symptoms as that in nonpregnant women. The fever is low grade with persistent dull pain in the abdomen. There may be constipation in the early stages of typhoid followed by diarrhea. If left untreated and when the disease progresses to the third week, appetite begins to decrease, physical weakness is observed, and in some cases, there is delirium and confusion.
If typhoid is left untreated or not treated correctly, the typhoid bacteria could cross the placenta and infect the fetus, resulting in a maternal-fetal infection known as chorioamnionitis. This can lead to fetal death or early abortion and, in later stages of pregnancy, serious neonatal complications. Also, because the mother is dehydrated and undernourished with a low appetite, the fetus can have a low birth weight and, in some cases, can even be underdeveloped or small for date.
Treatment of typhoid in pregnancy in the early stages of typhoid shows good response and the disease can be arrested in a couple of days. Treatment generally begins with amoxicillin or ceftriaxone injections. However, concerns regarding resistance to these medications may arise. Self-medication should be strictly avoided, and an expert medical opinion should be taken. It is also important for the woman to hydrate herself well, preferably also drink lukewarm water with honey every day after meals, eat well and consume only cooked food and boiled water all times.
If you live in an area with poor sanitation or are traveling to a country where typhoid is prevalent, it is best to take a typhoid vaccine to protect you and your child from this serious infection. Typhoid vaccines are available as Typhim or Typherix injections or Vivotif tablets. An injectable vaccine is recommended because the tablet vaccine is a live vaccine and should be avoided during pregnancy. Always remember that these vaccines may not give you complete protection, and one should inculcate good personal hygiene practices and take strict precautions while consuming water and food when visiting disease-prone areas.
Typhoid has been successfully treated during pregnancy in most women and the chances of stillbirths or abortions are less under expert vigilance. However, it is best to treat the disease at its earliest to avoid further complications to ensure the health of the fetus and the mother.