Typhoid is crawling across the planet, and a new, drug-resistant strain of the disease is terrifying world health workers. The “superbug” strain of typhoid has been designated H58, and it is resistant to most antibiotics known to man.
What is typhoid? Typhoid is a symptomatic bacterial infection caused by a bacteria called Salmonella Typhi. The symptoms of typhoid usually occur between six and thirty days after exposure when there is a gradual, miserable onset of very high fever, weakness, abdominal pain, headaches, and constipation. Rose colored spots commonly spread across the chest with the onset of typhoid, and the very high fevers can cause confusion in its victims. The death rate associated with typhoid is around 20 percent.
The particular strain of typhoid now infecting a very large swath of Asia and Africa has been called “previously under-appreciated and an ongoing epidemic” by world healthcare workers, and the inability to slow the H58 strain of typhoid is proving deadly to its victims.
A new report on typhoid in the journal Nature Genetics points out the critical nature of H58.
“[H58 typhoid is] displacing other typhoid strains that have been established over decades and centuries throughout the typhoid endemic world, completely transforming the genetic architecture of the disease.”
Over 75 scientists from almost two-dozen countries around the planet have banded together to study the H58 strain of typhoid in the hopes of finding some sort of way to slow the strain of typhoid down.
The lead author of the latest report concerning H58, Dr. Vanessa Wong, stated that a global effort to try and head off this latest strain of typhoid “is critical.”
Currently, vaccines are available for typhoid, but due to their “limited cost-effectiveness,” they are often not available in poorer countries. As a result, typhoid is usually dealt with through the use of antibiotics after it is contracted. Now, however, the H58 strain of typhoid – the “superbug” type that is rising as the dominant strain of typhoid in the world – is becoming dominant, and scientists say that H58 is “continuing to evolve.”
The overuse of antibiotics to treat things they can’t combat has been an issue the Center for Disease Control has been speaking out about for the last few decades. Antibiotics will not affect things like colds, flu, bronchitis, most sore throats, and many ear and sinus infections. When they are overused, bacterial infections that antibiotics will work against, like typhoid, become resistant.
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