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HPA - Typhoid fever vaccine recalled

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is aware the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has issued a drug alert to healthcare professionals advising them that the manufacturer Sanofi Pasteur MSD has recalled 16 batches of their typhoid vaccine, Typhim Vi.

This recall is due to concerns about the effectiveness of the vaccine in some syringes distributed from 7 January 2011 following filling problems in the manufacturing process. Therefore some people who have been vaccinated with Typhim Vi may not be fully protected against the disease.

A spokesperson for the HPA, said: “Over the past five years, around 250-300 laboratory confirmed cases of typhoid were reported annually in the UK. Typhoid is almost exclusively acquired abroad through the ingestion of heavily contaminated food and water. Deaths from typhoid are extremely rare in the UK due to availability of effective antibiotic treatment – none were reported between 2007-2011.

“Provisional data from 2011 to September 2012 do not suggest that there has been an increase in cases of typhoid since January 2011, the date from which affected vaccine was distributed.

“Typhoid vaccination is 50-80 per cent effective and travellers are advised to practise strict food, water and personal hygiene precautions even if vaccinated.

“The main early symptoms and signs of typhoid fever are fever, headache, general aches and pains, cough and constipation. Later symptoms include diarrhoea, stomach discomfort, lack of appetite and nausea. If typhoid is untreated it can spread to other family members and contacts in the UK.

“Anyone displaying symptoms of typhoid fever, either while abroad or when back in the UK, should seek urgent medical attention”.

Notes to editors:

Typhoid, sometimes known as enteric fever, is a disease caused by salmonella bacteria.

Typhoid occurs worldwide, but most cases in the UK are in travellers returning from Pakistan, Bangladesh or India. Even people who have lived in Pakistan, Bangladesh or India are still at risk of getting typhoid when visiting these countries.

Typhoid can be prevented through a typhoid vaccine, which can be obtained free from your GP before travel, and good hygiene practice while abroad.

Booster Typhoid vaccination doses are required after 3 years.

An alternative oral typhoid vaccine is available for travellers from six years of age, and a combined hepatitis A and typhoid vaccine can be used for those aged 16 years or older if hepatitis A vaccination is also required. Travellers should discuss their travel plans with their GP, practice nurse or private travel clinic to ascertain whether these vaccines are appropriate for their trip. For children under six years of age, healthcare professionals should seek specialist vaccination advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) www.nathnac.org external link.

How to avoid getting typhoid when you travel

  • Only eat food that is freshly prepared, cooked and served piping hot, or fruit that you have peeled yourself, such as banana and mango
  • Only drink bottled or cooled boiled water, or pasteurised milk. When drinking bottled water ensure the seal is unbroken or choose sparkling water to ensure the bottle has not been refilled
  • Wash your hands frequently using soap and water
  • Wash your hands before preparing food, eating or drinking, and after using the toilet
  • Use bottled or boiled water to brush your teeth. Do not use tap water

You should avoid:

  • Uncooked food such as salads
  • Raw or uncooked shellfish
  • Buffets (if you have to eat at a buffet, choose steaming hot dishes)
  • Unpasteurised milk and cheese
  • Ice-cubes (to keep drinks cold put the container or glass on ice, do not put ice in your drinks)
  • Tap water
  • Ice-cream products
  • Cold desserts in restaurants
  • Leftovers

More information on Typhoid from the HPA website.

HPA factsheets on Typhoid have been translated into Bengali, Gujarati, Punjabi and Urdu. 

Information about the Medicines Recall is available from the MHRA website external link.

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