Understanding Typhoid: A Common People Overview With A Focus On Dimapur And Kohima - Eastern Mirror
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Understanding Typhoid: A Common People Overview With a Focus on Dimapur and Kohima

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By EMN Updated: Jun 16, 2024 12:36 am

Introduction

Typhoid fever is a significant public health concern, particularly in regions with inadequate sanitation and limited access to clean water. It is a life-threatening illness caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi. Despite advances in medical science, typhoid remains a pressing issue in many developing countries, including India. In the state of Nagaland, the commercial town of Dimapur and the state capital, Kohima, face unique challenges that exacerbate the spread of typhoid. This essay aims to provide a common people overview of typhoid fever, covering its causes, symptoms, transmission, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention, with a focus on the specific issues affecting Dimapur and Kohima. The ideas shared is for educational purpose only.

Causes and Transmission

Typhoid fever is caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi. Humans are the only known hosts for this pathogen, which means the disease is spread exclusively from person to person. The primary mode of transmission is through the ingestion of food or water contaminated with the faeces of an infected person. In Dimapur and Kohima, several practices contribute to the spread of typhoid:

1. Poor Sanitation Planning: The lack of proper sanitation infrastructure leads to the contamination of water sources with human waste.

2. Water Logging and Waste Dumping: Frequent water logging and the dumping of waste into public drainage systems create environments where the bacteria can thrive.

3. Lack of Sewage Disposal: Improper sewage disposal, including the emptying of septic tanks into public drains during the rainy season, exacerbates the contamination of water supplies.

4. Public Spitting and Washing Water Disposal: Spitting in public places and directing washing water from individual houses onto public roads contribute to the spread of pathogens.

5. Uncontrolled Landfill Areas and Single-Use Plastics:Unmonitored landfills and the widespread use of single-use plastics lead to environmental contamination.

These factors create a perfect storm for the spread of typhoid, particularly during the monsoon season when water contamination is at its peak.

Symptoms and Clinical Presentation

The symptoms of typhoid fever typically appear one to two weeks after exposure to the bacteria. The onset is usually gradual, starting with mild symptoms that can escalate if not treated. Common symptoms include:

1. Fever: A high, sustained fever is a hallmark of typhoid. The fever can reach up to 104°F (40°C).

2. Headache: Persistent headache is a common complaint among those infected.

3. Weakness and Fatigue: General malaise and fatigue are frequent, often accompanied by muscle aches.

4. Gastrointestinal Symptoms: Abdominal pain, constipation, or diarrhea can occur. In the early stages, constipation is more common, but diarrhea may develop as the disease progresses.

5. Rash: Some individuals may develop a rose-colored rash, particularly on the abdomen and chest.

6. Loss of Appetite: Nausea and anorexia are typical, contributing to weight loss.

If untreated, typhoid fever can lead to severe complications, such as intestinal perforation, internal bleeding, and septicemia, which can be fatal.

Diagnosis

Early diagnosis of typhoid fever is crucial for effective treatment. Diagnostic methods include:

1. Blood Culture: This is the most definitive test, particularly in the first week of illness. Blood samples are cultured to detect the presence of Salmonella Typhi.

2. Widal Test: This serological test detects antibodies against Salmonella Typhi. However, it is less specific and can produce false positives.

3. Stool and Urine Culture: These tests can also detect the bacteria but are less reliable than blood cultures.

4. PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction): This modern method can detect bacterial DNA and is highly specific and sensitive.

Prevention

Preventing typhoid fever involves a combination of personal hygiene, public health measures, and vaccination. Here are some everyday preventive measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of typhoid fever, especially in Dimapur and Kohima:

1. Handwashing: Regular handwashing with soap and water, particularly before eating and after using the toilet, is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of typhoid. Ensure hands are washed thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

2. Safe Drinking Water: Always drink boiled or bottled water. Avoid consuming tap water or untreated water from wells, rivers, or other sources. Use water filters if boiling or bottled water is not available.

3. Food Safety: Eat freshly prepared and thoroughly cooked food. Avoid raw fruits and vegetables unless they can be peeled. Wash all fruits and vegetables with clean water before consuming. Be cautious about eating food from street vendors.

4. Proper Waste Disposal: Dispose of waste properly. Do not dump waste into public drainage systems. Communities should work together to manage waste effectively and ensure that garbage is collected and disposed of properly.

5. Sewage Management: Ensure proper disposal of sewage. Septic tanks should be emptied by professional services and not drained into public waterways or drains. This prevents contamination of drinking water sources.

6. Avoid Spitting in Public: Encourage the practice of not spitting in public places. Spitting can spread bacteria and other pathogens, contributing to the transmission of diseases like typhoid.

7. Cleanliness and Hygiene in Homes: Ensure that homes are kept clean, and any waste or dirty water is disposed of properly. Do not direct washing water from homes onto public roads. Use designated drainage systems for wastewater.

8. Community Clean-Up Drives: Organise and participate in community clean-up drives to ensure that public spaces, drainage systems, and water sources are kept clean and free from waste.

9. Reduce Single-Use Plastics: Avoid the use of single-use plastics that can contribute to environmental pollution. Encourage the use of reusable bags, containers, and other sustainable alternatives.

10. Vaccination: Get vaccinated against typhoid fever, especially if you live in or are traveling to areas with high incidence rates. Vaccination can provide significant protection against the disease.

11. Public Awareness Campaigns: Participate in and support public awareness campaigns that educate the community about the importance of hygiene, sanitation, and preventive measures. Awareness is a critical component in preventing the spread of typhoid.

Challenges and Future Directions

Despite the availability of preventive measures and the potential for improved public health infrastructure, typhoid fever remains a significant challenge in Dimapur, Kohima, and other parts of Nagaland. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella Typhi complicates treatment and highlights the need for ongoing research into new therapeutics and vaccines. Public health infrastructure improvements, particularly in sanitation and water supply, are crucial to reducing the incidence of typhoid fever.

Global initiatives, such as the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) efforts to promote vaccination and improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs, are vital. Continued investment in these areas, combined with robust surveillance systems to monitor and respond to outbreaks, can significantly reduce the burden of typhoid fever.

Conclusion

Typhoid fever is a preventable and treatable disease, yet it continues to affect millions of people worldwide, particularly in regions with poor sanitation like Dimapur and Kohima. Through a combination of improved public health infrastructure, widespread vaccination, and effective treatment strategies, the global community can make significant strides in controlling and eventually eradicating typhoid fever. Public awareness and education are key components in this fight, empowering individuals and communities to take proactive measures against this persistent health threat. Addressing specific local issues in Nagaland, such as waste management and water contamination, will be essential in reducing the incidence and impact of typhoid fever in the region. By implementing everyday preventive measures, communities can significantly reduce the risk of typhoid and promote a healthier, safer environment for all.

Liangkamang Panmei

(Principal, Christ King Hr. Sec. School Kohima)

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By EMN Updated: Jun 16, 2024 12:36:47 am
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