My refrigerator has typhoid fever.

Chicago Travel Blog

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To prevent typhoid, they give you...typhoid.
Today Steve and I went to the travel clinic at Northwest Memorial hospital (here in Chicago) for the immunizations needed on our trip around the world.  We brought a list of our intended destinations (still not final!), which the nurse reviewed and entered into the computer. She then printed about 2,000 pages of recommendations, warnings, and general information on diseases found in each country. Just a little scary! 

I got off easier than Steve, since I was heavily vaccinated prior to a trip to Africa two years ago. I had already had Hepatitis A (which comes in two parts -- I had yet to do the second), meningitis, typhoid (now expired), and diphtheria. So my list was short: Hep A part 2,  Hep B (also given in two parts, and recommended for long term travel even if you aren't an intravenous drug user), Malarone tablets to carry along for visits to malarial areas, and typhoid fever. She also gave us a prescription for Zithromax antibiotics and syringes, "just in case." 

The typhoid vaccine is actually a live bacteria that must be kept in the refrigerator. It is taken every other day (4 capsules total over 7 days). I looked online to see if I could actually contract typhoid fever from the vaccine, but it looks like the worst thing I can expect is a bloated or queasy feeling. There is also a single injection that can be used instead, which is what I did when I went to Africa. That vaccine only lasts 2 years (versus about 5 for the oral) and is considerably more expensive.  

Malarone, the malaria vaccine, is more likely to have side effects. I have met people who experienced severe stomach cramping from this, as well as headaches and nausea. I have taken it in the past and had no problems... hopefully Steve will be fine with it as well. Malarone is started 2 days prior to entering the malarial area, then taken during the entire stay and for 7 days afterwards. Because we will be in many infected areas, we were given a full 3 months supply each. At about $1 per tablet, that really adds up! (unfortunately, my insurance carrier, Aetna, does not cover vaccine.)

Steve has to go back to the travel clinic in March for the second half of his Hep vaccines, and I will see my regular doctor for Hep B part 2. In the meantime, I have set aside that very large stack of extra information for now. Perhaps I will use it as a little "light reading" on the airplane... or maybe not. Can I get the Cliff Notes?

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To prevent typhoid, they give you.…
To prevent typhoid, they give you…
photo by: mahoney