Tuesday, July 21, 2020
Survey Finds Low Levels of Awareness About Typhoid Prevalence and Ways to Prevent It
* Nationwide survey of 1,337 respondents across eight cities shows low awareness on typhoid prevalence and ways to prevent it including vaccination
* More than one sixth (17%) of respondents in Bangalore who did not vaccinate their children considered typhoid to be ‘not at all serious’ or ‘mild/easily manageable’
* With 2.2 million cases of typhoid recorded in India in 2016, the country has one of the highest incidence rates in the world, with the disease affecting mainly children
* Typhoid symptoms are often non-distinguishable from other illnesses but early preventative treatment measures including education play a key role in protecting children
Abbott, one of India’s leading healthcare companies, partnered with Babygogo (part of the Sheroes Network), to conduct a nationwide survey across eight cities* to assess awareness around typhoid fever. With 2.2 million cases of typhoid being recorded in India alone in 2016, typhoid fever poses a serious disease burden in the country. In fact, in Karnataka alone, there were 137,973 cases in 2017, contributing 6.21% to India’s total burden.
Typhoid fever, which is a bacterial infection, tends to affect children most, with peak incidence occurring in children aged 5-15 years. Currently available evidence shows that vaccination against typhoid is effective and tolerable. The survey results highlighted that only 66% of respondents reported being aware of a typhoid vaccination.
Key Survey Findings
* There are higher levels of awareness for mandatory vaccines, i.e., vaccines given in National Immunization Program of the country (NIP) such as rotavirus (82%) compared to vaccines not given in NIP such as influenza (67%) and typhoid (66%).
* The survey revealed that more than one sixth of respondents in Bangalore who did not vaccinate their children (17%) considered typhoid to be ‘not at all serious’ or ‘mild/easily manageable’, unaware of the fact that the bacterial infection can lead to serious complications if left untreated or treated with inappropriate medicines.
* Other findings suggest that key reasons for not vaccinating include absence of vaccine recommendation by the pediatrician (48%) and non-inclusion in the list of NIP vaccines (36%).
Misleading Symptoms and Delay in Treatment
Commenting on these findings, Dr. R. Kishore Kumar, Senior Neonatologist & Founder Chairman of Cloudnine group of hospitals said, “The Indian subcontinent has the highest incidence of typhoid worldwide. The illness is characterized by prolonged fever, headache, nausea, loss of appetite, and constipation or sometimes diarrhoea. Since these symptoms are often clinically non-distinguishable from other illnesses causing fever, typhoid is frequently not treated appropriately at the early stages when such treatment is most effective – which makes prevention all the more important. In a yet unpublished study carried out at Cloudnine, we found many children affected now a days are much younger – as young as 7 months in contrast to the olden days when children were school going age group. The findings of this survey carried out by Abbott indicate that physician recommendation can play a key role in ensuring higher immunization rates to protect children from this disease, as can efforts to educate patients. I encourage parents to seek guidance from their doctors about this vaccination.”
Myths on Causes for the Disease
Survey findings also show that myths about the disease are highly prevalent. As a bacterial bloodstream infection, typhoid fever spreads through contaminated water and food, often due to lack of hygiene and access to drinkable water. Yet 57% of survey respondents nationwide inaccurately attributed the cause of typhoid to a change of weather or season. Significantly, less than half of mothers from Bangalore identified close contact (37%), touching contaminated surfaces (20%) or eating food cooked by a typhoid patient (25%) as risky behaviours that could spread typhoid.
Prevention Helps Lessen Infections and Drug Resistance
Studies have shown that vaccinations can help lower the incidence of infection, but 13% of the respondents in Bangalore stated that they prefer to take the risk of getting a serious medical condition than to receive a vaccination for it.
Dr. Kishore Kumar added, “Prevention through vaccination will help reduce typhoid burden and mortality. IAP has recommended now the vaccine can be given to children as young as 6 months along with the influenza vaccine. Given the rising emergence of drug-resistant strains of typhoid, administration of typhoid vaccination to populations at high risk of infection is a public health priority.  The survey findings indicate the vast majority of mothers have low levels of awareness about typhoid and the specific precautions that need to be taken to protect themselves and their families. Educating mothers about the benefits of getting their child vaccinated is the need of the hour.”
Dr. Srirupa Das, Medical Director, Abbott India, explains, “The findings shed light on awareness levels, motivation and behaviors around typhoid vaccination in India. They suggest that increased awareness on typhoid and ways to prevent it, such as improved hygiene levels and vaccination, can contribute to lessening India’s health burden due to typhoid infections. As part of our mission of helping people live healthier lives, we support educational initiatives on typhoid fever in India, especially amongst new mothers and parents in general.”
About the survey
Abbott India, in partnership with Babygogo (part of the Sheroes Network), conducted a survey across eight cities* namely Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi and Pune to understand the perceptions and barriers surrounding typhoid vaccination. A total of 1,337 respondents were surveyed online on awareness levels, motivation and behaviours surrounding vaccination against typhoid in India. 37% of caregivers surveyed had children aged 0 to 6 months, 39% had children aged 6 months to a year and 24% of people had children 1-2 years old.
Abbott is a global healthcare leader that helps people live more fully at all stages of life. Our portfolio of life-changing technologies spans the spectrum of healthcare, with leading businesses and products in diagnostics, medical devices, nutritionals and branded generic medicines. Our 107,000 colleagues serve people in more than 160 countries. In India, Abbott was established in 1910, and is one of the country's oldest and most admired healthcare companies. With over 12,000 employees in the country, Abbott in India is helping to meet the healthcare needs of consumers, patients and doctors throughout urban and rural India.