New data from the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Foodborne Disease Burden Epidemiology Reference Group reveal that in 2010, unsafe food was responsible for 22 different foodborne enteric diseases– including typhoid fever.

Typhoid fever is a severe infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) and is spread through the ingestion of water or food contaminated with human waste. Typhoid often causes symptoms ranging from a high fever to death if left untreated.

As with most diseases caused by contaminated food, typhoid primarily infects children under five. However, as the WHO points out, many of these cases could be prevented with increased food safety.

Food safety is a critical to preventing disease and promoting healthy, prosperous communities. This World Health Day, the World Health Organization (WHO) is highlighting the need for increased food safety in order to decrease enteric infections such as typhoid, which are caused by viruses, bacteria and protozoa that enter the body by ingestion of contaminated food.

This year’s World Health Day slogan, “from farm to plate, make food safe,” encourages all food handlers and consumers to take the necessary steps to ensure food safety. Doing so would prevent needless deaths due to unsafe food.

The Coalition against Typhoid (CaT) Secretariat, housed at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, is addressing the global burden of typhoid by focusing on issues such as food safety and proper hygiene and sanitation practices, in conjunction with vaccines.

While typhoid can be treated with antibiotics, 60 to 80 percent of salmonella isolates are resistant to commonly used antibiotics, requiring new and more expensive antibiotics for treatment and increasing hospitalization rates for patients. And while typhoid vaccines exist, they are costly and have not been widely supported for use in typhoid endemic countries. This means that the most vulnerable populations, such as infants and young children, do not have access to the vaccine.

To address these challenges, manufactures around the world are accelerating efforts to produce a more effective vaccine. At the same time, CaT is raising awareness about the prevalence of typhoid, and the need for new typhoid conjugate vaccines.

In just a few weeks, CaT will convene prominent clinicians, scientists, policy makers and public health practitioners to share updates on research and public health strategies geared towards reducing the burden of typhoid fever and invasive salmonelloses. 

A young typhoid patient from Dhaka, Bangladesh

Their 9th International Conference on Typhoid and Invasive NTS Disease seeks to report on progress towards vaccine development. Additionally, the Conference attendees will discuss next steps for typhoid research and strengthen linkages between research and policy makers. 

To learn more about the conference, click here. To participate in the conversation and stay up to date, follow the hashtag #TyphoidNTS.

A young typhoid patient from Dhaka, Bangladesh