Typhoid fever is endemic in the Neapolitan area, where its yearly incidence rate largely exceeds the corresponding national figure. During the period from January to June, 1990, a matched case-control study was carried out in order to identify risk factors of the disease in this area; 51 subjects (mean age 27.2 years) with typhoid fever were compared with 102 controls matched with respect to age, sex and educational level. Consumption of raw shellfish was reported by 76.5% of the cases, as opposed to 19.6% of the controls (P <0.01). Subjects who had eaten this food item had a 13.3-fold risk (C.I. 95% = 5.5 - 32.8) of contracting typhoid fever. In contrast, no risk was found to be associated with consumption of cooked shellfish, raw vegetables, ice-cream, non-potable water, or unpasteurized milk. The risk factor identified in this study shows that hazardous dietary habits and inadequate sewage treatment facilities, combined with lack of sanitation in the harvesting and marketing of shellfish, play a major role in the endemicity of typhoid fever in the Neapolitan area.
- Typhoid fever
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