An Auckland woman who suffered a rare bout of typhoid earlier this year is urging people to take possible symptoms of the illness seriously.
A typhoid outbreak linked to an Auckland church is believed to have ‘plateaued’ according to the Auckland Regional Public Health Service who said Monday that the number of confirmed cases remained at 18.
One woman died in hospital from health complications including typhoid. Two other cases remain unconfirmed.
Health authorities were slammed for their handling of the situation, with the dead woman’s family saying they were unaware she had the infectious disease.
READ MORE: * Family not told loved one had died from typhoid for a week, family spokesman says * Eleven confirmed cases of typhoid linked to Pacific Island church community * Ten people hospitalised after typhoid outbreak in Auckland * What is typhoid
The public was alerted only days after her death, as the number of people diagnosed with typhoid steadily increased.
Manasi Parulekar, 24, was hospitalised in January this year after coming down with what she thought was a terrible flu.
She was bedridden for days shortly after returning from a family trip to India.
“It was like a really bad flu or cold,” she said.
“I woke up Friday morning and I was just feeling really, really tired. I don’t know how to describe it but you just feel really tired and I had a pounding headache, that was different to normal headaches.
“I was feeling really run down. You just think that you’re tired and it’s viral, not bacterial.”
She travelled to Hamilton to stay with her parents but was rushed to the emergency department in the middle of the night after suffering such a high fever that she began to sweat and shake profusely.
“You have such a high fever that your body reacts to it by shaking. I was cold – wearing two or three puffer jackets. I just couldn’t get warm. I couldn’t stop shivering – but I was sweating.”
Doctors initially diagnosed her as having a flu and sent her home with paracetamol, but she quickly returned to her local GP after she became dehydrated from sweating so much and being unable to keep water down.
Parulekar was so ill all she could do was try and sleep, with little motivation to even watch television.
A week later doctors began to suspect her condition was bacterial, and after initially testing her for malaria and dengue fever, they began to suspect typhoid.
“It’s so uncommon in New Zealand they didn’t think it was a possibility,” Parulekar said.
“They were like, ‘nah that’s not possible there’s no typhoid here,’ so that was really interesting given what’s happened.”
The question then remained how she caught it.
There are no specific answers but blood work revealed the typhoid she had was treatable by a particular antibiotic – which experts said likely ruled out India as a possibility.
“If you get typhoid in India, Amoxicillin wouldn’t work, but it would have worked on me according to my blood tests.”
It’s possible she caught it in Auckland, or on a brief stop over in China. Daily medication for 10 days improved her condition but it took months for her to begin to be able to do regular daily activities like exercise and walking to work.
What initially started off as a terrible fever also lapsed into abdominal problems and she had to be careful about what she was eating.
“I would not wish that on anyone,” she said.
“If you do have symptoms, don’t underestimate it and say it’s a cold or a flu.”
Anyone with symptoms of typhoid should contact their doctor or an after-hours clinic, or Healthline on 0800 611 116.
What is typhoid?
* An infectious bacterial fever. It is rare in New Zealand, with about 40 known cases a year. * Most New Zealand cases have been caught during travel overseas, especially in tropical countries. * Typhoid symptoms include a high fever developing over several days, as well as headaches, general weakness and muscle aches. Stomach pain and constipation are also common but some people get diarrhoea. * Anyone with those symptoms should see their doctor or an after-hours clinic, or contact Healthline on 0800 611 116.