Rachel Slayton, Kashmira Date & Eric Mintz
New data on the epidemiologic, clinical and microbiologic aspects of typhoid fever in sub-Saharan Africa call for new strategies and new resources to bring the regional epidemic under control. Areas with endemic disease at rates approaching those in south Asia have been identified; large, prolonged and severe outbreaks are occurring more frequently; and resistance to antimicrobial agents, including fluoroquinolones is increasing. Surveillance for typhoid fever is hampered by the lack of laboratory resources for rapid diagnosis, culture confirmation and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Nonetheless, in 2010, typhoid fever was estimated to cause 725 incident cases and 7 deaths per 100,000 person years in sub-Saharan Africa. Efforts for prevention and outbreak control are challenged by limited access to safe drinking water and sanitation and by a lack of resources to initiate typhoid immunization. A comprehensive approach to typhoid fever prevention including laboratory and epidemiologic capacity building, investments in water, sanitation and hygiene and reconsideration of the role of currently available vaccines could significantly reduce the disease burden. Targeted vaccination using currently available typhoid vaccines should be considered as a short- to intermediate-term risk reduction strategy for high-risk groups across sub-Saharan Africa.
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