The new problem of typhoid fever in Papua New Guinea: how do we deal with it?


M Passey


This paper reviews some of the issues relating to typhoid fever in Papua New Guinea. Before the mid-1980s only sporadic cases of typhoid were reported but it is now one of the greatest public health problems in the highlands and some urban areas. In one study near Goroka an annual incidence rate of 1208 per 100,000 people was found, with settlers from other areas at greater risk than the local landowners. Problems relating to management included differentiation from other diseases, the limitations of the Widal test and poor compliance among outpatients. In Papua New Guinea it appears that transmission is largely from person to person, with little evidence for water-borne transmission. The prolonged convalescent excretion of Salmonella typhi and the difficulties this poses for control of the disease are discussed. Prevention will only be achieved in the long term by improvements in hygiene and sanitation, though more immediate control could be achieved by vaccination with an appropriate vaccine.


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