Typhoid Fever: The Harsh Reality

“I believe that we are who we choose to be. Nobody’s going to come and save you, you’ve got to save yourself. Nobody’s going to give you anything; you’ve got to go out and fight for it. Nobody knows what you want except for you. And nobody will be as sorry as you if you don’t get it. So, don’t give up on your dreams.”

Did you know that salmonella, one of the the most common bacterias responsible for food poisoning, can turn into typhoid fever once it gets into your blood? Nope? Well neither did I until we realized that salmonella typhi is what has been causing Kevin so much trouble.

It started and ended with a blood test, a test we had to practically force the incompetent doctor to complete instead of willy-nilly giving us yet another (wrong) antibiotic. Once the results came back we saw that he was positive for salmonella typhi O 1:80 (don’t worry I still hardly know what these numbers mean). Basically, what it boils down to is that his bacterial infection had left his gut and was now circulating throughout his body, a septic infection which, when caused by this certain bacteria, turns into typhoid fever.

We were shocked after reading more online to discover that death usually occurs within the month, and that without antibiotics, there is a twenty percent mortality rate (luckily when treated promptly it is down to under one). Though most people fight off salmonella within four to seven days naturally, in rare instances (such as this) it can circulate through the blood for weeks. We had no idea how long he had already had it, but we knew we needed the correct treatment pronto.

Here is the catch. Strains of salmonella caught in Asia are extremely antibiotic resistant (no surprise after seeing their policy on antibiotic hand outs) and unfortunately, Kevin could easily have been one of those unlucky folks who caught an antibiotic resistant strain. After a few frantic emails to doctors and calls to parents, Kevin went in for sensitivity testing on the antibiotics he had been prescribed. Thankfully the doctor redeemed himself a bit in my eyes when he told us that he had already sent it in to be tested, and finally it seemed our luck had turned since he came back with good results (meaning the antibiotics were working).

The last few weeks have been rough. With Kevin being sick and no end in sight, we had no idea what would become of our trip. There were days I was worried it would all be over, even before it had really started, while other days I was just annoyed to be waiting around for so many weeks in a town I had already spent ample time in. Sure, some may say well at least you are in Nepal, but we weren’t, not really. We could have been in Israel, Canada, or back home in our house as we were trapped inside a small four wall room simply waiting, trying different medications, and growing more and more frustrated by the day.

Our Indian visas arrived just in the nick of time (a day before my Nepali visas expires), and though this doesn’t leave us enough time to cycle out of here, we will be catching a night bus tonight in order to make it to India by tomorrow! We are finally on the move again!

3 thoughts on “Typhoid Fever: The Harsh Reality

  1. Feel for Kevin as caught typhoid in Indonesia a few years ago. Ended up having the wrong antibiotics and in hospital 3 times before it was sorted. Remember freaking when I read the list of symptoms and realised the only one I had left to go was death! Took me about a year to truly recover so maybe a bus right now isn’t such a bad thing. Well done for surviving and not letting it put you off continuing.

  2. I was a little surprised at your acceptance of local water in all places. It would be prudent to drik purified water, if you could get it and use local water only as a last resort. I have visited India about 6 times in last 30 years and used to get sick during the first 3-4 visits. Last 2 were uneventful as I drank purified water. I did not even have to buy much in the last visit in April as most folks I visited have RO (Reverse Osmosis) units in their homes and many restaurants do too.

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