Health Ministry, Singapore Food Agency investigating recent increase in typhoid cases

Health Ministry, Singapore Food Agency investigating recent increase in typhoid cases

Doctor stethoscope child
File photo of a doctor with a stethoscope (Photo: Pixabay/Semevent)

SINGAPORE: Authorities are investigating the cause of an outbreak of typhoid fever in recent weeks.

As of Aug 16, the Ministry of Health (MOH) was notified of 18 local cases of typhoid fever, developing symptoms between Jul 13 and Aug 4, MOH and the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) said.

Both said in a joint reply on Sunday (Aug 18) that all 18 cases were hospitalised, as diagnosis of typhoid is typically done in hospitals. They added that those affected are currently in stable condition with 14 people discharged.

As part of the investigations, affected individuals will be interviewed and places where they consumed food will be inspected in order to trace food sources and collect targeted food and water samples for testing. 

Household members of those affected have also been tested or advised to seek medical attention if they develop symptoms, the authorities said.

"All typhoid cases who are food handlers will not be allowed to work until they have fully recovered. As an added precaution, MOH has informed doctors through an alert to remain vigilant and report typhoid fever cases," the agencies added.

WHAT IS TYPHOID FEVER?

Typhoid fever is a bacterial infection caused by Salmonella typhi, and is transmitted through the ingestion of food or water contaminated by faeces and urine of patients or carriers.

Food items which could be contaminated by the bacteria include raw or ready-to-eat foods, such as raw (unpasteurised) milk or their products, seafood, and fresh produce including fruits and vegetables, the agencies said in their advisory.

"A person with typhoid fever usually has prolonged fever which may be accompanied by other symptoms common to many diseases, such as headache, body aches, vomiting, diarrhoea or constipation," they added.

Typhoid fever is treatable with antibiotics and those with prolonged fever should consult their doctor, MOH and SFA said, adding that the key to prevention lies in hand hygiene, safe handling, cooking and consumption of food. 

Here's how you can reduce the risk of getting typhoid fever:

  • Washing and peeling raw fruit or vegetables 
  • Thoroughly cooking food
  • Avoiding raw (unpasteurised) milk or foods made from raw milk
  • Washing hands and kitchen utensils such as knives and cutting boards thoroughly before handling food
  • Using separate sets of knives and cutting board for raw and cooked food.
Source: CNA/mn

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