Health Ministry official tries to calm fears of typhoid spread

A Health Ministry official said an outbreak of typhoid in Gharbiya Governorate is no cause for fear since the number of cases is still small and is unlikely to reach epidemic levels.

The government earlier denied the outbreak when residents of Abu Salem village said 95 locals had been infected and lodged complaints with prosecutors against the health minister. At the time, Ministry officials had said no typhoid cases had been confirmed in the village and that prosecutors would investigate private labs that had reported positive tests for "spreading rumors."

The ministry's head of preventative medicine, Amr Qandil, told Al-Masry Al-Youm Thursday that five people have contracted typhoid infections in the governorate. With nine confirmed cases in the governorate in December and another eight in January, Qandil said the five cases represented a decrease in the rate of infection.

"On my personal responsibility as head official of preventive medicine, I confirm the disease is not [spreading] and it has not reached epidemic proportions," Qandil said.

The ministry is collecting samples and keeping the public informed, but has not taken additional measures as none are necessary in this case, he said.

According to the US-based Centers for Disease Control Prevention, people who eat food or drink beverages that have been handled by a person who is shedding Salmonella Typhi bacteria can develop typhoid fever. The disease can also be spread if sewage contaminated with the bacteria enters the water supply.

Once Salmonella Typhi bacteria are consumed, they multiply and spread into the bloodstream, causing fever and other symptoms, according to the CDC.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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