If you’re off on holiday soon, you’ll need to make sure your vaccinations are all up to date. Here we explain typhoid fever, including how you can get it, how to spot it and how to prevent it.

What is typhoid and how do you catch it?

Typhoid fever is most likely to occur in parts of the world with poor sanitation and limited access to clean water. It’s a highly contagious bacterial infection that can spread throughout the body, affecting many organs. Without prompt treatment, it can cause serious complications and can be fatal.

It can be contracted through consuming food or drink that’s contaminated with a small amount of infected faeces or urine. Typhoid is uncommon in the UK, most cases are from an infection being picked up whilst visiting countries such as Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. Worldwide, children are at the most risk due to an under developed immune system. However, their symptoms are usually milder than in adults.

Signs and symptoms of Typhoid

Typhoid symptoms include:

  • High temperature
  • Stomach pain
  • Headache
  • Constipation or diarrhoea

It’s important to act quickly when symptoms of typhoid fever occur. If the infection goes untreated it could cause complications and increase the risk of developing potentially fatal consequences. If you think you have some, or all of these symptoms during travel or on return to the UK, you should seek urgent medical attention. You should explain to the doctor treating you that you have travelled abroad.


In the UK, 2 vaccines are available that can provide some protection against typhoid fever. These involve either having a single injection or taking 3 capsules over alternate days. Vaccination is recommended for anyone planning to travel to parts of the world where typhoid fever is widespread.

The typhoid vaccination doesn’t offer 100% protection, so it’s important to practice safe food and water hygiene whilst following scrupulous hand hygiene measures. For example, only drink sealed bottled water or freshly boiled water, and where possible avoid any food that could be contaminated.

How long does the typhoid vaccination last?

The vaccination protects against typhoid for three years, however it’s important to understand the vaccine isn’t 100% effective. You should practice other good food and water hygiene measures to reduce your risk.

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Signs and symptoms

Those who have picked up the cholera bacteria don’t always have symptoms, but these are some of the typical symptoms you should expect:

• Severe, watery diarrhoea

• Nausea

• Vomiting

• Stomach cramps

Cholera symptoms can occur after just after a few hours, but generally develop within a few days of picking up the infection. If untreated, dehydration from severe diarrhoea and vomiting can quickly take effect, causing the body to go into shock because of a big drop in blood pressure.


If you are travelling to a country known to be affected by cholera, here are a few ways you can help protect yourself:

• Only drink boiled or sealed bottled water

• Avoid ice in your drinks and ice creams

• Wash (in safe water) or peel uncooked fruit and vegetables

• Avoid shellfish, seafood and salads

Practice good personal hygiene measures – always wash your hands in safe water before eating and visiting the bathroom


The risk to most travellers is very low and vaccination is usually only recommended in the following circumstances:

• Volunteers/aid workers/medical personnel in disaster relief situations where cholera outbreaks are likely

• Those travelling to work in slums/refugee camps or areas affected by natural disasters

• Those travelling to countries experienacing cholera outbreaks and where care with food and water is difficult or not possible

The drinkable cholera vaccine is given in two or three (depending on age) separate doses, taken from one to up to six weeks apart and completed at least a week before travelling.

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We offer a 10% discount for our corporate customers and for all travellers in the charity sector. Whether you’re looking for corporate flu vaccinations or need travel vaccinations for your staff, our team of nurses and pharmacists can help. 

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