Health authorities in Pakistan and the World Health Organization have reported an ongoing outbreak of drug-resistant typhoid fever. The outbreak is classified as extensively drug-resistant (XDR) typhoid fever. This means that it is resistant to all the recommended antibiotics for typhoid fever. The current outbreak began in the Hyderabad district of Sindh province since November 2016.
From November 2016 to 9 December 2018, 8188 typhoid fever cases were reported in the Sindh province. Out of these, 5274 cases have been classified as XDR typhoid. The XDR strain is resistant to first and second-line of antibiotics. It is also resistant to the third generation cephalosporins used for its treatment. The number of XDR typhoid cases has been increasing continuously since being first detected. There were 11 cases in 2016, 730 cases in 2017, and 4533 cases of XDR typhoid fever in 2018.
WHO says that the risk of XDR typhoid at the national level is high in Pakistan. This is because of poor sanitation, poor hygiene practices including less frequent handwashing, and low vaccination rates. There is also limited surveillance around typhoid fever epidemics.
There have been reports of international transmission of the XDR typhoid strain through people who have traveled to Pakistan. There have been six reported cases, one in the UK and the remaining 5 in the US.
Typhoid fever is a life-threatening bacterial infection. Typhoid fever affects between 10 million and 21 million people every year, mostly in the developing and under-developed world.
You can get Typhoid fever by consumption of food or drink contaminated with Salmonella typhi. The disease also spreads through contamination of the water supply. This disease is more common in areas of the world where handwashing is not practiced frequently and where water may be contaminated with sewage.