Typhoid bacteria becoming antibiotic resistant: Doctors

Typhoid and paratyphoid are transmitted faeco-orally through ingestion of contaminated food or water. Houseflies are the main vectors for the disease.
Representative Image
Representative Image

Chennai: Typhoid fever is prevalent in places with poor sanitation and a lack of safe drinking water. Treatment for Typhoid includes Antibiotics and symptomatic management.

Over the last few months, increasing resistance to antibiotic treatment is making it easier for typhoid to spread through overcrowded populations in cities via inadequate or flooded water and sanitation systems, say doctors.

Typhoid and paratyphoid are transmitted faeco-orally through ingestion of contaminated food or water. Houseflies are the main vectors for the disease.

The bacteria can live for weeks in water or dried sewage and is most prevalent in areas where hand washing practices are less frequent.

“The bacteria can also be spread by carriers who are unaware that they carry it,” says Dr Spoorthi Arun, internal medicine, Promed Hospital.

The most common resistance pattern is to flouroquinolones which were initially considered the first line in the treatment of typhoid. “With the development of more resistant strains, the use of third generation cephhalosporins, macrolides such as azithromycin, and other antibiotics has increased,” pointed out Dr Arun.

The most definitive mode of diagnosis for typhoid is blood culture, but it’s takes atleast 3-5 days to get results. Alternative methods such as antibody and antigen testing are routinely done.

“It’s mainly due to the over-the-counter purchase of antibiotics and their over-use that antibiotic resistance develops commonly in our local population. India is one of the countries with highest cases of antibiotics resistance,” Dr Narendra Nath Jena, senior consultant and HoD, Emergency Medicine, Meenakshi Mission Hospital and Research Centre. “The treatment (for many diseases) has stopped responding due to this resistance. Use of antivirals is being replaced by antibiotics and this leads to antibiotics resistance.”

He added that typhoid does not discriminate based on age, but prevention was possible with basic hygiene practices. “Use of anti-bacterials is important and a specific dose should be given. If there is an overuse, the patient might not respond to treatment,” he stated.

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