Health officials confirmed a case of typhoid fever at a Quincy day care yesterday — a particularly dangerous disease for children that can lead to alarmingly high fevers and, sometimes, death.
“It is a serious infectious disease that can be deadly if not treated appropriately,” said Dr. Mary Montgomery, infectious disease physician at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “Like many infectious diseases, it can be worse in young children compared to adults.”
The case was discovered at Bright Horizons in North Quincy in a child who had recently been traveling, according to health officials. Other children and teachers were being tested yesterday at the Quincy Department of Health.
Typhoid fever can cause fever as high as 104 degrees, along with intense abdominal pains and weakness.
High-risk areas include Southeast Asia, Africa and South America.
“The Massachusetts Department of Public Health is working with Bright Horizons and the Quincy Public Health Department to prevent the spread of the disease,” said state Department of Public Health spokeswoman Ann Scales.
Massachusetts sees typhoid cases every year, she said, with a total of 20 from last year.
To contract the illness, classmates and teachers would have to ingest the stool or urine of the infected child.
Local school and health officials say they work to keep any cases out of school or day cares while they are contagious.
“Typically, we keep the case out from the school or day care while contagious, and we test other students and staff who may have been exposed through stool culture,” Scales said. “Staff may be excluded until their tests are negative. We manage these situations in conjunction with local health authorities and school/day care administration.”
The day care was closed yesterday while parents and teachers held a meeting, according to officials.
“We’re just testing immediate classmates and teachers, and until that’s over, there is no statement,” said Quincy Public Health Nurse Karen McKim.
She said typhoid is a type of salmonella, but “symptom-wise, it can be a lot worse.”
Boston Public Schools advise students and staff to regularly wash hands, cover mouths when coughing and not to share food to prevent the spread of contagious diseases.
“It is not common for someone to contract typhoid fever from infected water or foods in the United States, but travelers to foreign countries may become infected in their travels,” BPS said in a statement. “Therefore, BPS advises students to become vaccinated against typhoid fever when traveling to less developed countries, as designated by the Centers for Disease Control (and Prevention).”