My housemate Courtney headed back to the States earlier this week to recover from typhoid fever. She’d been fighting with it for about 3 weeks—oral antibiotics, IV antibiotics, home rest, hospital rest, diet, you name it—and they eventually decided she’d recover better at home. Now it looks like Courtney was just the first of many to become diseased. I would hesitate to call it an “epidemic” but just today 3 staff members and 1 staff child were diagnosed with the bug. I’m not sure what the total sick person count is, but alarmingly, the four most recent casualties all live near Mt. Hermon and we all share a common water supply. Coincidence? We hope so.
The tough thing is that it’s so darn easy to come into contact with bad water. At first it seems like the simplest thing in the world to avoid: only drink filtered water. But that’s really just the beginning. Take dish washing: we wash our dishes in tap water and once they’re dry there’s no problem, but often things aren’t quite dry when you pick them up. When you remember, you can dry them out with a napkin but sometimes you don’t even notice. Or maybe you accidentally get some water in your mouth while you’re showering or space out and rinse your tooth brush under the tap. Or you dutifully wash your hands after using the restroom but they’re not quite dry when you head into lunch and grab that roti off the buffet line.
So now we’re all paranoid. The most common symptoms of typhoid are exhaustion, body ache, a low-grade fever and occasionally some nausea. Well, those are also typical symptoms of any general malaise and the common cold so it’s tough to tell what you’ve got—impossible without a blood test, actually. And it’s the end of the semester so everyone is exhausted. But now, the minute you feel tired a little voice starts chanting “typhoid, typhoid” and suddenly you feel warmer than usual—is that a fever coming on? One month to go. Fingers crossed!