Typhoid fever

Preventing typhoid fever

Vaccination

Vaccination is recommended if you are travelling to parts of the world where typhoid fever is present, particularly if you are planning to work or live with local people.

Parts of the world that are most affected by typhoid fever are:

  • South Asia
  • Southeast Asia
  • Africa
  • the Middle East
  • Central and South America

In Scotland, most people who get typhoid fever have visited India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Therefore, it is particularly important that you are vaccinated if you are visiting these countries.

Some GP surgeries vaccinate against typhoid fever free of charge on the NHS, so it’s worth checking with your GP first.

Alternatively, vaccinations are available from private travel clinics for around £25.

Choosing a vaccine

Two vaccines are available for typhoid fever in the UK:

  • VI vaccine – this is thought to be 75% effective against typhoid fever in the first year after vaccination
  • Ty21a vaccine – this is thought to be 50–60% effective against thyroid fever in the first year after vaccination

While the VI vaccine is more effective, some people prefer to have the Ty21a vaccine because it is available as a tablet, while the VI vaccine is given by injection.

However, as the Ty21a vaccine contains a live sample of Salmonella typhi bacteria, it is not suitable for people who have a weakened immune system (the body’s natural defence against infection and illness), such as people with HIV.

The protective effect of the VI vaccine will last for around three years, after which a follow-up booster vaccination will be required. The Ty21a vaccine will last for around one year before a booster shot is required.

Advice for travellers

Vaccinations do not provide complete protection against typhoid fever so it is important to take some basic precautions when travelling in countries where typhoid fever is present. For example:

  • Only drink bottled water from a bottle that is properly sealed.
  • Don't buy ice cream, ice cubes or fruit juice from street vendors.
  • Don't eat raw vegetables, peeled fruit, shellfish or salads.

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.

Vaccination
Vaccination (or immunisation) is usually given by an injection. It makes the body's immune system produce antibodies that will fight off a virus or bacteria.

Last updated: 31 January 2012