02/06/2013 03:42 pm ET Updated Feb 06, 2013

Typhoid Fever Reported At Purdue University

A cafeteria worker at Purdue University has been diagnosed with typhoid fever, CBS station WLFI and FOX 59 report. Purdue also issued a release on behalf of the school, alerting students and staff to the incident.

The disease, which is rarely found in the U.S., is passed through contaminated food or water and includes symptoms like a high fever (over 103 degrees), abdominal pain and severe diarrhea. It is rarely fatal, but the case nevertheless has the university on alert.

Health Commissioner William VanNess II told WLFI that students and staff cannot be too careful.

“Unfortunately, symptoms of typhoid fever can resemble other illnesses, so for those individuals who may have been exposed, it’s critical to see a health care provider right away if you begin to experience symptoms," he said.

VanNess said individuals should explicitly mention possible exposure to typhoid fever.

State health officials told WLFI that the worker contracted the disease while traveling internationally.

The Indiana State Department of Health reports that it typically receives three cases of typhoid fever each year, according to agency documents. Around 400 cases are reported nationally each year, and 75 percent of those who contract the disease have traveled to places where the fever is common like Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to the department.

Last year, students at nearby Huntington University dealt with an outbreak of lice after a group returned from a trip to India, Inside Higher Education reported. In another incident of international travels affecting a campus, around 29 UC Berkeley students were infected by mumps last year after one student contracted the virus in Great Britain, The Daily Californian reports.

In 2010, cases of typhoid fever in the U.S. were linked to a frozen tropical fruit called mamey, which was used in smoothies. After confirmed cases of the disease in California and Nevada, the product was eventually recalled.



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