Case—control study to identify risk factors for paediatric endemic typhoid fever in Santiago, Chile


Robert E. Black, Luis Cisneros, Myron M. Levine, Antonio Banfi, Hernan Lobos, and Hector Rodriguez


Typhoid fever is an important endemic health problem in Santiago, Chile. Its incidence has more than doubled in recent years, during which access to potable water and sewage disposal in the home became almost universal in the city. A matched case—control study was carried out to identify risk factors and vehicles of transmission of paediatric typhoid fever; 81 children in the 3-14-years age group with typhoid fever were compared with controls, matched with respect to age, sex, and neighbourhood. It was found that case children more frequently bought lunch at school and shared food with classmates. Also, case children more often consumed flavoured ices bought outside the home; none of 41 other food items considered in the study was associated with a higher risk of typhoid fever. Only two food handlers for cases and one for controls were positive for Salmonella typhi, indicating that persons preparing food solely for their own family were not the main source of S. typhi infection. Rather, the risk factors identified in this study are consistent with the hypothesis that paediatric endemic typhoid fever in Santiago is largely spread by consumption of food-stuffs that are prepared outside the individual’s home and are shared with or sold to children.


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