Reporting Mary Robb Jackson
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With the flu season upon us, an international student at Chatham University was not initially alarmed by her symptoms of fever, headache and stomach pain.
She was treated for flu-like symptoms, but returned to Health Services and was taken to a hospital, Chatham’s Paul Kovach said.
“And that’s when they ran the tests and we received the confirmation yesterday that she tested positive for typhoid,” he said.
The school notified students, linking them to the Centers for Disease Control and sanitized the sick girl’s room.
“We also identified her friends and the people that she had come in contact with recently had them tested,” Kovach said.
All were negative.
The undergraduate is recovering well and other students seem satisfied with the steps taken.
“The Health Center is good,” Jade Simons, a freshman, said. “So, I’m sure if there were problems they would clean it up right away.”
Typhoid Fever is transmitted by food or drinking water contaminated by feces or urine.
“Hand-washing is extremely important in the prevention of diseases like this,” according to Guillermo Cole of the Allegheny County Health Department.
Homegrown cases of typhoid are rare. Most are imported.
“The cases of typhoid fever that we have seen here in our area and really across the United States are almost always linked to international travel,” Cole said.
In Allegheny County so far this year there have been three cases reported. In 2010 there were four and three in 2009. There were five in 2008.
Rehydration therapy and antibiotics are the prescribed treatments. Typhoid fever is not usually fatal.
“All the cases we’ve had – the handful of cases we’ve had over the years – have recovered,” Cole said.
Of course, the most famous outbreak of Typhoid in this country came in 1906 when an Irish cook named Mary Mallon, dubbed “Typhoid Mary” infected 53 people and spent most of the rest of her life in quarantine.