I live in Dhaka, Bangladesh. In spite of the best efforts by the local government and various international organizations to improve the overall public health and welfare situation, diseases such as cholera, malaria, dengue fever, typhoid, tuberculosis, filariasis and many more are still common in this country. As you will notice, most of these diseases are a result of parasitic infections — this is typical of many tropical countries, especially those whose health and sanitation infrastructure is not well developed. While not reaching epidemic proportions, occasional localized outbreaks of such diseases are not unheard of in Bangladesh; fortunately the local government and various non-governmental organizations (NGOs), which typically provide aid and development services, successfully handle these small outbreaks.
Living in Dhaka, there are many precautions one must take not to fall prey to disease: sleeping under mosquito nets, drinking only bottled or properly filtered water, never eating food prepared and sold by street vendors, never using public or shared restrooms — the list goes on and on. Despite my best efforts in maintaining all these rules, most of which have become second nature, I ended up with a typhoid infection. The most common vector of this disease is via the ingestion of food or water contaminated by a species of typhoid causing Salmonella bacteria called Salmonella typhi. These bacteria are spread when sewage water is ingested or when a typhoid carrier handles the food you are about to eat. I have tried my best to retrace my steps and am at a loss as to where I could have been infected. I never eat anything other than meals prepared at home and only drink bottled water. In the in end, all that mattered was that I had become infected and I was going to be very sick.
Typhoid fever symptoms vary among sufferers. Typical symptoms include high fever, loss of appetite, a bleeding nose, stomach aches, headaches, lowered heart rate, extreme weakness, and a rash of red spots on the body. Other than the rash of spots and the bloody nose, I can safely say I went through all the symptoms with varying degrees of severity. Initially I thought I had the flu or common cold — the symptoms were indistinguishable: general weakness, fever and a loss of appetite. Usually when I have the cold I'll stay in bed, eat a lot of soup and pass the time sleeping and doing crosswords online. I knew there was something wrong when this time I didn't have the strength and mental energy to sit up in front of my laptop (which is conveniently located near my bed) and work on any crossword. In fact, I had trouble focusing on simply reading the clues and found it increasingly difficult to sit up for any length of time. This went on for nearly a week with the symptoms gradually getting worse: the fever increased, my weakness got worse, and I experienced a total loss of appetite.