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Alarm over Drug Resistant Typhoid

Recently, researchers at Welcome Trust, a British non-profit organisation raised alarm at the increasing antibiotic-resistant typhoid across Africa and Asia, which is currently posing a major global health threat. The researchers, who have been tracking the hard-to-treat infection, say it is replacing regular typhoid in many countries. Following analysed bacterial samples from 63 countries, it was discovered that nearly half were impervious to standard antibiotic treatments, which was blamed on over-reliance on those drugs.
The body observed that in many parts of Asia and Africa, a multidrug-resistant strain called H58 has displaced other typhoid strains, which have been around for centuries. They therefore called on the international community to act immediately to protect a third of the world population against the risk of contracting typhoid. It would be recalled that typhoid is caused by the highly contagious bacterium Salmonella typhi, which can spread from person to person by food and water that is contaminated with traces of infected faeces or urine.
Typically, the illness is characterised by very high fever, sweating, diarrhea, malaise, diffuse abdominal pain and constipation. Its protean manifestations make the disease a true diagnostic challenge. If untreated, it becomes a gruelling illness that may progress to delirium, intestinal hemorrhage, bowel perforation, and death within one month of onset. Even at that, survivors may be left with long-term or permanent neuropsychiatry complications.
Statistics reveal that more than 21 million cases of typhoid fever and five million cases of paratyphoid ‘A’ fever are reported worldwide every year, especially in many Third World countries where the lack of appropriate sanitation and access to clean water are common. Even with advances in technology and public health strategies, typhoid fever remain a major cause of morbidity in the developing world. In many of these countries, the illness disproportionately affects young children and may reflect high rates of transmission through food and water.
In addition, the availability of diagnostic tests that are rapid, sensitive, specific, simple to perform and cost effective to detect for the pathogen in contaminated food, water and healthy human carriers, would provide an effective tool in controlling and preventing typhoid. According African Health Journalists Association (AHJA), typhoid has put over 95 percent of Nigerians at risk of ill health, representing over 160 million people in the country.
We are therefore calling on the country’s health authorities to take urgent steps in identifying ways of curbing the spread of the new drug resistant typhoid among the population.
This they should do through public education campaigns to encourage people to wash their hands after defecating and before handling food. Moreover, people should be advised to drink properly treated water and desist from buying all manner of sachet water being sold by roadside vendors. In addition, limiting the inappropriate use of antibiotics will be part of the solution, while surveillance, systems to identify antibiotic-resistant bacteria should be improved to identify hotspots and intensify prevention and control measures.

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