Typhoid fever in rural Haiti


Ollé-Goig JE, Ruiz L.


A review was made of the clinical characteristics and evolution of all patients over 14 years old with typhoid fever who were treated at the Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Haiti from January 1989 through July 1991. Two hundred and seventeen patients were studied. Their most common symptoms were fever (100%), diarrhea (64.1%), and abdominal pain (51.2%). Splenomegaly and hepatomegaly were rarely noted. Sixty-eight patients (31.3%) were lost to follow-up, 129 (59.4%) were cured, and 20 (9.2%) died. There was a tendency for patients who were ill longer before seeking medical assistance to experience higher mortality. The data also indicate that patients with central nervous system involvement had a less favorable prognosis than other patients. Overall, the high incidence of hospital-reported cases (74 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) shown by these and other data makes it clear that typhoid fever is a highly prevalent infection in rural Haiti. At present, it appears that the only hope for effectively controlling the disease is by educating the population at risk, not only to prevent the disease but also to seek early medical assistance after becoming infected. Typhoid fever patients with a long history of illness before consultation may have a less favorable prognosis than other patients and should be kept under close observation. In addition, any suspected typhoid fever patient with signs of central nervous system involvement should be treated promptly with high-dose steroids, besides receiving an adequate antibiotic regimen.


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