Typhoid fever - urgent health alert

This article published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 23, No 6, 10 June 1999 a report of typhoid fever outbreak on an Australian cruise ship

Page last updated: 21 June 1999

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A health warning has been issued to all passengers who travelled on the P and O Fair Princess, cruise No. 76 that departed Cairns, Australia on 12 May 1999 and travelled to Port Moresby, Samarai Island, Milne Bay, Honiara, Champagne Bay and Vila to see a doctor immediately if they are feeling unwell or have been recently sick.

The Communicable Diseases Network of Australia New Zealand (CDNANZ) advises that at least three passengers on this cruise have been infected with typhoid fever and there may be more passengers who are affected.

There are two confirmed cases of typhoid fever in Victoria and one in NSW. All of the cases notified so far appear to have taken a Kokoda Trail tour on 14 May.

Typhoid is an infection caused by bacteria of the Salmonella group. It occurs world-wide but is more common in developing countries such as Asia, including the Pacific Islands, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.

Typhoid is transmitted by contaminated food, water or ice. The symptoms of typhoid are fever, diarrhoea or constipation, abdominal pain or tenderness, nausea, vomiting and headache, malaise and cough. Diagnosis is usually made by blood test or faeces examination. Symptoms can occur within three days and up to three months after consumption of contaminated food or water, but usually in one to three weeks. Antibiotic treatment is extremely effective and results in complete recovery.

Passengers who travelled on this cruise and who have the above symptoms are advised to seek medical attention urgently.

P and O Cruises are co-operating fully with the investigation now under way and they point out that the evidence so far points to the Kokoda tour as the source of the problem.

This article was published in Communicable Diseases Intelligence Volume 23, No 6, 10 June 1999.

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This issue - Vol 23, No 6, 10 June 1999