Paratyphoid fever

What is paratyphoid fever?

Paratyphoid fever is a serious bacterial infection caused by a type of Salmonella bacteria called Salmonella paratyphi. Paratyphoid fever is not common in Canada. Cases are mostly linked with travel to countries that do not have adequate food safety, or sewage and water treatment.  

How is paratyphoid fever spread?

Only humans can become infected with Salmonella paratyphi and spread it to other people by the fecal-oral route. This means that bacteria from the feces (stool) of the sick or infected person must get into the mouth of another person for the infection to spread. People can also become ill when they drink water or eat food that has become contaminated with the bacteria, especially if it was handled by someone infected with paratyphoid fever. Contaminated unpasteurized milk, unwashed raw fruits and vegetables, and raw or undercooked shellfish harvested from contaminated water are also possible sources of this infection. 

What are the symptoms of paratyphoid fever?

Symptoms start between 1 to 10 days after contact with the bacteria. Symptoms usually include fever, decreased bowel movements, headache, lack of hunger, rash on the upper body, and a slow heart rate. A small number of people, including children, may experience diarrhea, however, constipation is more common in adults. Some people who are infected with the bacteria do not experience symptoms, but are still able to pass the infection on to others. 

How is paratyphoid fever treated?

Antibiotics are usually needed to treat paratyphoid fever. If left untreated, paratyphoid fever can cause serious complications, so it is important to see your healthcare provider if you become ill. If you are not treated appropriately, it is possible to continue to pass the bacteria in your stool and infect others, even after symptoms disappear.  

Are there any restrictions or special considerations for people with paratyphoid fever?

Anyone with paratyphoid fever should stay home from work or school until they feel better and no longer have symptoms. Food handlers, those who provide health care services, and those who work or attend a child care centre, must stay home and away from work or daycare if they are sick with paratyphoid fever. Ottawa Public Health will advise people whose work involves preparing or handling food, healthcare or childcare activities, or children who attend daycare, when they may return to work or daycare.

How can I protect myself and others against paratyphoid fever?

To prevent becoming ill with paratyphoid fever:

  • When travelling to areas where water safety and supply is uncertain, use sealed bottled water or treated (chemically disinfected or boiled) water instead of tap water for drinking, brushing teeth, preparing foods, making ice and cooking
  • Always wash hands well with soap and water for at least 15 seconds before and after preparing food, before eating, after using the toilet, after changing diapers and anytime hands may be dirty
  • If you have diarrhea, avoid preparing food or drinks
  • Avoid contact with stool (feces) during sex
  • Shellfish should be boiled or steamed for at least 10 minutes before eating
What is Ottawa Public Health's role?

All individuals who have, or may have, paratyphoid fever must be reported to public health. Ottawa Public Health interviews the individual, provides education, identifies and notifies close contacts of possible exposure to Salmonella paratyphi, and follows up with their healthcare provider when necessary. Ottawa Public Health will also advise people who are ill with paratyphoid fever and their contacts when they may return to work or childcare. 

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