Typhoid fever

Diagnosing typhoid fever

If you develop symptoms that suggest you may have typhoid fever, your GP will want to know whether:

  • you have travelled to parts of the world where the infection is present
  • you have been in close contact with someone who has travelled to these areas

See the introduction to typhoid fever for a list of countries that are most commonly affected.

Testing for Salmonella typhi

A diagnosis of typhoid fever can usually be confirmed by taking samples of blood, stools or urine and examining them under a microscope for Salmonella typhi bacteria.

The bacteria are not always detected the first time, so you may need to have a series of tests.

Testing a sample of bone marrow is a more accurate way to diagnose typhoid fever. However, getting the sample is both time consuming and painful, so it is usually only used if other tests are inconclusive.

If testing confirms that you have typhoid fever, it is usually recommended that other members of your household are also tested in case you have passed the infection to them.

Glossary

Bacteria
Bacteria are tiny, single-celled organisms that live in the body. Some can cause illness and disease and others are good for you.

Fever
A fever is when you have a high body temperature (over 38C or 100.4F).

Stools
Stool (also known as faeces) is the solid waste matter that is passed from the body as a bowel movement.

Last updated: 31 January 2012

Continue to next section: Treating typhoid fever