Typhoid Fever Warning In Bay Area, CDC Tips On Symptoms, Prevention

By Hilda Scott , May 06, 2013 03:13 PM EDT

Health officials in San Francisco warned local residents about possible exposure to typhoid fever. An employee at the Nordstrom Café displayed symptoms of the disease and may have contaminated food at the café.

The employee may have contracted typhoid fever from a recent trip overseas. Typhoid can be spread through improper handling of food. The San Francisco Health Department announced Friday that anyone who dined at the Nordstrom Café at the Stonestown Galleria mall last month may have been exposed to typhoid fever.

"If they ate at the Stonestown Nordstrom Cafe on the dates of April 16, 17, 18, 20, 27, and they start developing symptoms of illness, particularly gastrointestinal illness or high fever and rash, they should speak with their health care provider," the San Francisco Health Department's Dr. Susan Philip said.

Nordstrom was fully cooperative, working with the San Francisco Health Department to contact customers. Using credit card transaction information, Nordstrom reached out to customers to offer free testing at local clinics.

"It is not highly transmissible but it can be transmitted through food that's been touched by someone who's had an infection if it's been contaminated," Dr. Philip said. "So because of that, we're letting the public know." 

The CDC provides information about typhoid fever, including symptoms and prevention. According to the CDC, symptoms include a high temperature of 103 or 104 degrees, stomach pains, headache or loss of appetite. Some people who develop typhoid fever may develop rashes or rose-colored spots on their bodies. The testing of blood and stool samples for the presence of Salmonella Typhi, the bacteria that causes the illness, is the only way to diagnose typhoid fever.

Preventive measures recommended by the CDC include getting the typhoid fever vaccine and avoiding risky food and drinks. Being careful of what you eat and drink is as crucial as being vaccinated, since vaccines are not always completely effective. Avoiding foods and beverages from street vendors is a good idea. It's not easy to keep food clean and at proper temperature on the street, and many vendors do not handle food properly. Many travelers have not only contracted typhoid fever from street vendors, but also diarrhea, cholera, dysentery and hepatitis A.

Typhoid fever can be life-threatening, but most people survive when treated with antibiotics. Approximately 5,700 cases occur each year in the United States and up to 75 percent of infections are acquired from traveling internationally. 

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