In Canada, The United States and other developed countries, we are vaccinated at a young age for a variety of illnesses, including Typhoid.  However, recently, a strain of the bacteria that causes Typhoid has been found that appears to be resistant to antibiotics. Typhoid is only transmitted by humans who carry the S. Typhi bacterium in either their bloodstream or intestinal tracts.  S.Typhi is the abbreviated version of Salmonella Enterica Typhi, the bacteria that causes Typhoid fever.

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The strain has been called H58, and this particular strain has actually been around for over 30 years, starting in Asia and Africa, but has since moved to other continents.  Recently, over 70 researchers from around the world tested 1,832 samples from 63 countries for S. Typhi.  Of the samples tested, H58 was found to be in 21 countries, and is expected to expand to others.

Antibiotic-resistant Typhoid is spreading across Africa and Asia and poses a major global health threat, warn experts.

Although there might be a vaccine and antibiotics that can help with other strains of S. Typhi, the existence of H58 means that we are never fully protected.  It has even been stated that the vaccine we receive here Western countries don’t last forever, and those that aren’t prevented by vaccine can usually be treated with antibiotics. This is the reason why the H58 strain being resistant to drugs is a newer development.

Typhoid close up

It may come as a surprise that even with the vaccine, there were even 144 reported cases of typhoid in Canada in 2012.  The cases are mainly from international individuals and travellers, but it would be easy enough for the disease to be transmitted while in the country.  On the other hand, the disease affects a great deal many more in the developing world.

There are over 21 million reported cases of Typhoid, and almost 200,000 deaths every year worldwide.

Although it may seem as though there were only a few reported cases of typhoid in North America, we should not discount the fact that it would be easy enough for the drug-resistant strain to make its way over here. At the moment there seems to be no antibiotic that will treat the H58 strain of typhoid, however, that does not mean that one does not exist.  It will be necessary for scientists to research a new method of treatment in order to be able to find a cure for this disease as a preventative measure and aid many of those already afflicted.

[Via Nature Genetics]

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