Thursday, April 18, 2013

Typhoid Fever

By Alfred Jay Bollet, M.D.
Feared and often fatal, typhoid fever was one of the most terrible epidemic diseases in the 1800s. Typhoid is an intestinal infection that is spread by ingesting food or water contaminated with the bacteria called "Salmonella typhi". Such contamination was usually widespread in army camps, and caused huge epidemics. During the Civil War, there were 75,418 cases in white Union soldiers and 27,,058 (36%) of then died. Black troops encountered the disease at a comparable rate, and the Confederate records that exist indicate a similar experience.

The disease was at its peak during the first full year of the war (July 1, 1861, to June 30, 1862). During that period, 5.9% of Union soldiers (based on the army's mean strength that year) were diagnosed with typhoid fever; 2% of the entire army died from it.
The next year, when there was still active recruitment, 4.9% of the men reportedly had typhoid fever and 1.7% died.

In subsequent years, the incidence of typhoid fever averaged about 1.5% of the army's mean strength, and less than 1% died. There are no exact statistics on the incidence of disease in Confederate troops during this period, but anecdotal reports from physicians and commanders suggest a similar experience.

Patients with severe typhoid experience fever and severe generalized malaise as the bacteria spreads through the body. These patients usually develop transient red skin lesions called "rose spots" and have diminished mental function. Paralysis of wall muscles in the bowel can lead to intestinal dilation, distending the abdomen; nineteenth-century physicians described this phenomenon as "adynamia". Diarrhea or constipation may occur, and performation of the intestine can lead to death. Typhoid can also cause bronchitis, leading to pneumonia.

There were no effective treatments for typhoid. Physicians attempted to treat the symptoms using analgesics and quinine (as an antipyretic), and tried to find a palatable, appropriate diet for sufferers. Occasionally, these measures did some good. However, some physicians prescribed calomel for typhoid fever, causing mercury poisoning in many of the patients.
Excerpted from: "Civil War Medicine: Challenges and Triumphs" by Alfred Jay Bollet, M.D.
PHOTO: President Lincoln's son, Willie, who died of typhoid fever at age 11.


typo in paragraph 6 symptoms is spelled syumptoms and treat is spelled traet

could you say some stuff about the confederate states?

Um, did you mean "perforation" of intestines, rather than performations? Is that even a word?

washing your hand before eat something... but it's often forgotten...

It's amazing how far medical science has come in 150 years...

Nice blog. I recommend that Bitter Gourd Leaves are one of the best home remedies for typhoid fever.

The bacteria enters the body through the mouth in food and water

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Very useful and informative. In past it was very fatal disease, but now its easily controllable. If you wanna know the difference between various diseases, then you may visit

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Thanks for sharing such beautiful information with us. I hope you will share some more information about typhoid fever. Please keep sharing.
Health Is A Life

Harbor compounding pharmacy in California to provide better health solutions. The only effective treatment for typhoid is antibiotics. The most commonly used are ciprofloxacin (for non-pregnant adults) and ceftriaxone. Other than antibiotics, it is important to rehydrate by drinking adequate water. In more severe cases, where the bowel has become perforated, surgery may be required.

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I must say, this blog post on Typhoid Fever is incredibly insightful and well-researched. It covers a wide range of topics including the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for this potentially serious illness.

The article does a fantastic job of explaining the causes of Typhoid Fever particularly focusing on the bacterial infection caused by Salmonella typhi. By providing information on how the bacteria is transmitted through contaminated food and water, the post highlights the importance of practicing good hygiene and maintaining a safe food and water supply.

Typhoid fever, although less prevalent in many parts of the world today, remains a significant global health concern. It is essential to shed light on this infectious disease, as understanding its causes, recognizing its symptoms, and ensuring prompt treatment can help prevent its spread and minimize its impact on affected individuals and communities.

The primary cause of typhoid fever is the bacterium called Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi, which is typically transmitted through contaminated food and water. Poor sanitation practices, inadequate hygiene, and close contact with infected individuals are the main contributing factors to its transmission. Consequently, regions with limited access to clean water and sanitation systems are at higher risk of typhoid outbreaks.

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