For years, little was known of the typhoid burden in Africa, even though outbreaks of multi-drug resistant typhoid is becoming increasingly common. This lack of information spurred the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to fund the Typhoid Fever Surveillance in Africa Program (TSAP) through the International Vaccine Institute, a first-of-its-kind study established to shed light on true extent of the typhoid burden and multi-drug resistance distribution on the continent. The results from the TSAP, recently published in the Lancet Global Health, represent the most comprehensive and rigorous analysis of typhoid in Africa and could change our understanding of the disease burden across the continent.
Overseas travelers can sometimes bring back unwanted souvenirs — with tragic consequences. A localized outbreak of typhoid in Auckland, New Zealand has taken the life of one patient and affected 20 others. Public health authorities believe that a traveler to a typhoid-endemic country may have unknowingly contracted the disease and carried it back into the country.
After struggling with outbreaks for more than a year, Zimbabwe is facing yet another deadly wave of typhoid as it begins 2017. Hundreds of cases have been reported across the country over the past three months, the vast majority of which have occurred in Harare, Zimbabwe’s capital city, where the local government struggles to provide clean water and to contain sewage. Because typhoid is spread through contaminated food and water, the lack of these basic services means that typhoid bacteria can easily spread throughout the city. Although there are two vaccines for typhoid on the market, both of which have proven safe and effective, they are not readily available to Zimbabweans, even those that live in high-risk areas.
As 2016 has come to a close, our team at the Coalition against Typhoid would like to take a moment to reflect on this busy year. It was a year that illustrated, more clearly than ever, that typhoid is a continuing and major threat to millions around the world. Over the course of 2016, an estimated 21 million people – most of them children – suffered from typhoid. Of these, 220,000 died of the disease. We saw typhoid outbreaks in Malawi, Fiji, Zimbabwe and other countries. In endemic countries like India and Nepal, the monsoon season worsened the impact of this disease. In 2016, typhoid struck at ordinary places like schools and weddings, and also at the most vulnerable places, such as refugee camps, reminding us that this disease doesn’t discriminate.

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