QUINCY (CBS) – On Thursday it was confirmed that a child at a daycare and preschool in North Quincy had been diagnosed with typhoid fever, a disease rarely found in the United States.

For many, the name brings to mind “Typhoid Mary,” but what exactly is typhoid fever? Here’s what WBZ-TV’s Dr. Mallika Marshall has to say:

Typhoid fever, also known as enteric fever, is an infection caused by a type of salmonella bacteria. The infection causes chills, fever and belly pain, Dr. Marshall says. People with typhoid fever can also develop pink spots on their skin.

typhoid fever chart What Is Typhoid Fever?

(WBZ graphic)

It can be contracted like any other intestinal infection, such as norovirus, by consuming contaminated food or water.

Symptoms can develop between five and 20 days after becoming infected. It can be spread when someone consumes food or drink that have been handled by a person who is “shedding” the salmonella bacteria.

typhoid fever microscope What Is Typhoid Fever?

An up-close view of the bacteria that causes typhoid fever (Image credit: CDC)

Dr. Marshall says the best way to treat typhoid fever is with antibiotics. She said parents in Quincy don’t need to worry about going out to get kids vaccinated against typhoid fever, but they should watch for symptoms if they’ve come into contact with the infected child.

“The population and the public at large really shouldn’t worry,” she said.

Typhoid fever is very uncommon in the U.S. – Dr. Marshall says there only about 300 cases in the country every year. In the developing world, however, it is much more common, and the infected child in Quincy recently traveled abroad.


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