Page last updated at 10:09 GMT, Thursday, 30 August 2007 11:09 UK

Typhoid making a comeback in UK

holidaymakers
Holidaymakers should discuss travel health precautions with their GP

People holidaying in exotic places without being vaccinated is causing a rise in dangerous diseases like typhoid, warn doctors.

And low air fares could be fuelling the problem, they claim.

Figures from the Health Protection Agency show there has been a 69% increase in typhoid cases in recent years, with many acquired abroad.

Health experts are launching a campaign Valuing Vaccines to spread the message about the importance of immunisation.

We have seen vaccine-preventable diseases like typhoid on the increase because people travel abroad to endemic areas without being vaccinated
Travel health expert Dr Jane Zuckerman

Dr Jane Zuckerman, director of the Centre for Travel Medicine at the Royal Free Hospital in north London, who is backing the campaign, said: "The level of public ignorance exposed by these results is extremely worrying.

"We have seen vaccine-preventable diseases like typhoid on the increase because people travel abroad to endemic areas without being vaccinated and return sick to the UK."

Typhoid kills 600,000 people worldwide each year.

In 2002, 147 typhoid cases were reported in England and Wales, with 101 of those acquired abroad.

In 2006, this had leapt to 248 cases, of which 122 were acquired abroad.

A milder strain of the disease, called paratyphoid and which cannot be vaccinated against, increased by 78% over the last five years.

TYPHOID
Typhoid is caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi and is picked up through contaminated food or water
Typhoid fever can be life-threatening unless treated promptly with antibiotics
The disease lasts several weeks and it takes people a long time to recover

A survey of more than 1,000 reveals more than 1 in 3 people in the UK are not aware of the diseases which can be prevented by vaccination.

Nearly two-thirds did not know that typhoid could be prevented by vaccination, while two out of five incorrectly believed there was a vaccine for malaria.

The Health Protection Agency said it was strongly in favour of the uptake of all recommended vaccines.

A spokeswoman added: "Although typhoid has increased the figures are still quite low and tend to show some yearly fluctuation."

TV personality, Tony Robinson, whose aunt died of the vaccine-preventable disease diphtheria, is fronting the Valuing Vaccines campaign.

Free booklets are being made available in GP surgeries, schools and online at www.uvig.org.

Globally, 2 million deaths per year are prevented by vaccination and the World Health Organisation estimates that this figure could reach 4 to 5 million annually by 2015.

SEE ALSO
Mosquitoes thrive in wet summer
17 Aug 07 |  Health
Typhoid fever
30 Dec 04 |  Medical notes

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