A major outbreak of waterborne typhoid fever involving 77 verified cases occurred in 1985 in a large suburban area of Haifa, Israel. The authors summarize the clinical, microbiologic, and therapeutic aspects of these patients. Fever, usually higher than 39° C, was the hallmark of the disease. Other manifestations of typhoid, although relatively frequent, are presented as part of a mild nonspecific symptom complex, often found only in the prodromal period. An elevated level of serum glutamic-oxaloacetic transaminase (mean, 81 IU/ml) was the most characteristic laboratory abnormality, occurring in 94% of the patients. Blood cultures were positive in 46 of the 50 patients (92%), and were not affected by prior outpatient antibiotic therapy. The first blood culture was diagnostic in 93% of the cases. Although fever tended to disappear more rapidly among patients receiving ampicillin than among those treated with chloramphenicol, results of therapy were similar in both groups. Nevertheless, the relapse rate of 36% among 25 chloramphenicol-treated patients was significantly higher than the 9% noted among 22 patients treated with ampicillin. Except for one case of hemolytic anemia, serious complications were conspicuously absent, and outcomes were uniformly favorable.
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