WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - State health officials say a positive case of typhoid fever has popped up at Purdue – and it was found in a University food handler.
Local health officials and Purdue are working with the Indiana State Department of Health to investigate the case and assess public risk.
Anyone who ate at the Boiler Bistro, John Purdue Room, or the coffee shop, Lavazza, at Marriott Hall on Purdue's campus from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25 could be at risk.
Food prepared in Marriott for Purdue's Ben & Maxine Miller Child Development Laboratory School was not affected, because it is made in a different area.
"We hold our hospitality program to the highest standards of food safety protocols," Head of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management Richard Ghiselli said. "Hand washing is mandatory; the infected person wore gloves during food preparation and had minimal contact with the food."
Health officials say you should head to your doctor right away if you start to experience symptoms such as a high fever (103 to 104 degrees Fahrenheit), weakness, stomach pains, headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite. In some cases, a rash of flat, rose-colored spots may appear.
Symptoms usually begin within 8-14 days but could appear for up to 30 days.
"Unfortunately, symptoms of typhoid fever can resemble other illnesses, so for those individuals who may have been exposed, it's critical to see healthcare provider right away if you begin to experience symptoms," said State Health Commissioner William VanNess II, M.D. "Be sure to tell your physician that you may have been exposed to typhoid fever."
You are at risk of typhoid fever if you eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by someone who has Salmonella Typhi or if sewage contaminated with the bacteria gets into water used for drinking or washing food. Typhoid fever is more common in areas where hand washing isn't as frequent and water can be dirtied by sewage.
The only way to be sure if an illness is actually typhoid fever is to have samples of stool or blood tested for the presence of the bacteria. If you think you have the illness, don't prepare any food or drink for anyone, or even care for young kids or hospitalized patients.
Typhoid fever is a life-threatening illness that occurs roughly 400 times per year in the U.S., with 75 percent of these acquired while traveling internationally.
The fever is still common in the developing world, where it hits about 21.5 million people each year.
This case at Purdue being investigated recently traveled internationally, which is where the infection was introduced.
The patient, who contracted the disease while traveling internationally, will not return to work until cleared by the state health department, according to Ghiselli.
Even if symptoms of the illness disappear, you can still carry Salmonella Typhi and the illness could return or be passed on to others.
Typhoid fever can usually be treated successfully with appropriate antibiotics, which can make someone infected feel better within two to three days.
Deaths from typhoid fever rarely occur, but people who don't treat the illness could continue to have a fever for weeks or months. If left untreated, it could be fatal.
For more information about typhoid fever, head to the Department of Health's website.
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