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article imageDrug-resistant typhoid on the rise in the United States

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By Michael Krebs     Aug 25, 2009 in Health
Most commonly linked to foreign travel - particularly to the Indian subcontinent - U.S. authorities are reporting an alarming increase in drug-resistant typhoid fever nationally.
As global travel becomes increasingly commonplace in the United States, the incidence of diseases more readily associated with the ecology of developing nations are likewise becoming more common. West Nile virus has taken hold among American mosquito populations, and there have been increased reports recently of dengue fever and other more exotic diseases that are not native to the American ecology but that have found a home in the temperate U.S.
Now drug-resistant typhoid fever, a deadly scourge of the Indian subcontinent and large parts of the developing world, is taking root in America.
The disease is usually associated with eating contaminated food or drinking typhoid-infested water. It is a brutal bacterial infection that induces high-fever, abdominal pain, fatigue, and red spots on the skin.
"Among 2,016 "Typhi" samples sent to the CDC by U.S. public health laboratories for testing, 13 percent were resistant to the antibiotics ampicillin, chloramphenicol, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole," Reuters reported. "Thirty-eight percent of samples tested were resistant to an older antibiotic called nalidixic acid and the vast majority of these samples were not very susceptible to the killing power of the antibiotic ciprofloxacin."
The CDC recommendation on reducing the incidence of typhoid fever in the U.S. amounts to education on preventive measures among travelers going to typhoid-endemic locations - the key recommendation being in increasing typhoid vaccine coverage among those travelers.
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