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Typhoid fever is a systemic infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella typhi, usually manifested by the slow onset of a sustained fever and a variety of other symptoms including headache, cough, digestive disturbances, abdominal pain, and profound weakness. In a minority of sufferers, findings more specific for typhoid fever may be present, such as enlargement of the spleen or liver, or a characteristic "rose spot" rash. Untreated, the illness lasts 3 to 4 weeks; it claims the lives of about 10 percent of those affected and leaves about 2 percent as permanent carriers of the organism. Three-quarters of the world's population live in areas where typhoid is endemic, and 1 out of every 300 of the world's population contracts the disease each year. One million persons die of it annually, mostly children.

A variant illness, called paratyphoid fever, has many of the same features as typhoid fever, but is caused by members of the Salmonella bacterial family other than S. typhi. Typhoid and paratyphoid fevers are sometimes lumped together under the term enteric fever.

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