SALMONELLA TYPHI – What is its Positive and negative role


The bacteria Salmonella Typhi, which is well-known for its effects on public health, is essential to epidemiology and scientific study. Salmonella Typhi, a prominent member of the Salmonella genus, is named for its discoverers and is linked to a particular type of infection called typhoid fever. Although this bacterium can cause serious illness, it also sheds light on the connections between microbes in the human body.

Typhoid fever, a potentially fatal and systemic illness, is associated with the presence of Salmonella Typhi in the human digestive system. The intricate relationships between microbes in the human body are highlighted by our understanding of the fine balance between their pathogenic character and their use in scientific research.


As scientists discovered and defined Salmonella Typhi’s involvement in typhoid fever in the late 19th century, the bacteria rose to prominence. The historical background enables a thorough comprehension of the bacterium’s effects on public health and the ensuing creation of precautionary measures.

Figure 1 Salmonella Typhi | Source: Creative Biolabs


Historical Taxonomy

In the past, Salmonella Typhi was a member of the larger Enterobacteriaceae family and was related to other species of bacteria. The taxonomy classification was based on characteristics that could be observed, like movement and shape. These days, the taxonomic hierarchy of Salmonella Typhi is as follows, owing to advanced genetic analysis that has improved the classification:

Modern Taxonomy

  • Genus: Salmonella
  • Family: Enterobacteriaceae
  • Phylum: Proteobacteria
  • Class: Gamma proteobacteria
  • Order: Enterobacterales
  • Suborder: Enterobacterineae
  • Family: Enterobacteriaceae
  • Genus: Salmonella
  • Species: Salmonella Typhi

Physiological Characteristics

Salmonella Typhi exhibits distinct physiological characteristics that contribute to its pathogenicity and survival in various environments:

  • Metabolism: Facultative anaerobe, demonstrating adaptability to both aerobic and anaerobic conditions.
  • Motility: Typically motile, possessing flagella that aid in movement within the host environment.
  • Fermentation: Capable of fermenting sugars, resulting in the production of various metabolic byproducts.


Detailed Morphological Description

Salmonella Typhi is a rod-shaped bacterium that measures between 0.7 and 1.5 micrometers in width and between 2 to 5 micrometers in length. The bacterium’s gram-negative cell wall structure consists of an outer membrane that contains lipopolysaccharides (LPS), an inner membrane, and periplasmic space.

The movement of the bacteria is facilitated by its peritrichous flagella, which enables it to move around in its host environment. When examined under a microscope, Salmonella Typhi has a distinct appearance. It is composed of cytoplasmic components including ribosomes and plasmids, as well as a single circular chromosome contained within a nucleoid.


Salmonella Typhi’s structural components are vital for its morphology and functionality, including:

Cell Wall

  • The gram-negative cell wall consists of an outer membrane enclosing a thin layer of peptidoglycan.
  • Lipopolysaccharides within the outer membrane serve as key virulence factors, contributing to the bacterium’s pathogenicity.


  • Peritrichous flagella, hair-like projections on the cell surface, enable Salmonella Typhi to move efficiently, aiding in its ability to locate nutrients and avoid harmful substances.

Pili (Fimbriae)

  • Pili, small hair-like projections on the bacterial surface, facilitate adherence to surfaces.
  • Specific types of pili, such as those associated with host tissue attachment, play a role in Salmonella Typhi’s interactions.


  • Pathogenic strains of Salmonella Typhi can form capsules, providing protection against the host immune system.

Cytoplasmic Structures

  • Ribosomes in the cytoplasm contribute to protein synthesis.
  • The nucleoid region contains a single circular chromosome.

These structural components collectively support Salmonella Typhi’s survival, pathogenicity, and interactions with its environment, including surface adherence, motility, and immune system evasion.


Antigens produced by Salmonella Typhi, the causative agent of typhoid fever, play a crucial role in differentiating between various strains of this pathogen:

H Antigens (Flagellar)

  • Salmonella Typhi H antigens are linked to flagella, whip-like appendages that facilitate bacterial motility.
  • Variations within the species are partly explained by the diversity of Salmonella Typhi strains, which are attributed to distinct H antigens.

O Antigens (Somatic or Lipopolysaccharide)

  • O antigens are found in the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) layer of Salmonella Typhi’s outer membrane, which is a feature of Gram-negative bacteria.
  • These O antigens, which comprise a lipid A component with endotoxin qualities that can cause fever when released into the host body, are essential for classifying strains based on structural variations in LPS.

K Antigens (Capsular)

  • Certain strains of Salmonella Typhi produce capsules composed of K antigens, forming protective coverings outside the cell wall.
  • The variety of K antigens helps distinguish different strains of Salmonella Typhi and contributes to the organism’s evasion of the host immune system while facilitating attachment to various host cell surfaces.

F Antigens (Fimbriae)

  • The F antigens present in Salmonella Typhi are linked to fimbriae, which are short projections that resemble hairs on the bacterial surface. 
  • Fimbriae are involved in the production of biofilms, host cell attachment, and surface adherence, all of which contribute to the antigenic structure of Salmonella Typhi.

The serotyping and classification of Salmonella Typhi strains rely on these distinct antigenic structures. Understanding these structures enhances our knowledge of the diversity and virulence of Salmonella Typhi, aiding in the identification and study of pathogenic variations within the bacterium.

Figure 2 Antigenic structure of Salmonella Typhi | Source:



  • Salmonella Typhi’s genome is comprised of a single circular DNA molecule, which is normally approximately 4.6 million base pairs in size, though strain-specific variances may occur.

Gene Content

  • Salmonella Typhi possesses 4,000–5,500 genes that code for proteins, RNA molecules, and other functional elements essential for metabolism, cellular functions, and environmental adaption.


  • Certain strains of Salmonella Typhi are known to possess small, circular DNA molecules called plasmids, which are independent of chromosomal DNA.
  • These plasmids frequently include genes that confer favorable features, like resistance to antibiotics or the capacity to metabolize specific substances.


Horizontal Gene Transfer

  • Salmonella Typhi can exchange genetic material with other bacteria through mechanisms such as conjugation. 
  • This process adds to the bacterium’s adaptability by making it easier for it to acquire new traits, such as resistance to antibiotics.

Phylogenetic Diversity

  • The diverse range of Salmonella Typhi species arises from a blend of vertical evolution involving inherited traits from a common ancestor and horizontal gene transfer, with each group representing unique ecological niches and environmental adaptations.

Evolutionary Pressures

  • The presence of antimicrobial drugs, host immunological responses, and environmental changes all have an impact on Salmonella Typhi’s evolution. 
  • The bacterium’s versatility allows it to persist and survive in a variety of ecological environments.

Selective Pressures in Host Environments

  • Salmonella Typhi strains exhibit unique adaptations to flourish in particular host situations.
  • For example, they can use specific nutrients and avoid human immune responses.
  • For the bacteria to survive in settings similar to the human gastrointestinal tract, these modifications are essential.


Salmonella Typhi, as a species, encompasses various strains, each characterized by distinct attributes. The pathogenic strains of Salmonella Typhi include:

  1. Typhoidal Salmonella
  2. Para typhoidal Salmonella
  3. Multidrug-Resistant Typhi (MDR Typhi)
  4. Fluoroquinolone-Resistant Typhi (FQR Typhi)


Salmonella typhi has evolved to thrive in the human digestive system. It spreads mostly by feces and oral fluids and is mainly contracted through contaminated food and water. In contrast to certain other Salmonella serovars, Salmonella typhi is primarily a human-adapted pathogen and does not have a substantial environmental reservoir.

The bacterium is linked to typhoid fever, and because it can be difficult to maintain adequate sanitation and water cleanliness, urban areas and highly populated places are more vulnerable. Its prevalence in populations can be attributed to chronic carriers or those who carry the bacteria but do not exhibit any symptoms.

In areas with poor sanitation and water supplies, public health initiatives to prevent and control typhoid fever depend heavily on an understanding of Salmonella typhi ecology.



Pathogenic strains of Salmonella Typhi employ various mechanisms to initiate infections in humans. Key pathogenic strategies include:

1. Adhesion and Colonization

Salmonella Typhi utilizes adhesins to adhere to the surfaces of host cells in the intestines, facilitating colonization. This adhesion capability plays a crucial role in establishing infection and evading host defenses.

2. Toxin Production

Enterotoxigenic Salmonella Typhi produces heat-labile (LT) and heat-stable (ST) toxins, disrupting electrolyte balance and leading to diarrhea. These toxins contribute to the pathogenesis of the bacterium.

3. Invasion of Intestinal Cells

Salmonella Typhi invades intestinal cells, causing tissue damage and inflammation. This invasion mechanism is associated with the pathogenicity of the bacterium in the host’s gastrointestinal system.

4.  Biofilm Formation

Certain strains of Salmonella Typhi exhibit the ability to form biofilms on abiotic surfaces. Biofilm formation enhances resistance to antibiotics and disinfectants, contributing to the persistence of the bacterium in various environments.

5.  Antimicrobial Resistance

The presence of antimicrobial resistance genes in pathogenic Salmonella Typhi strains can complicate the treatment of infections. Understanding these resistance mechanisms is crucial for devising effective therapeutic and preventive measures against Salmonella Typhi-associated illnesses.


1.    Vi Capsule

  • S. typhi has a distinctive characteristic called the vi antigen, or vi capsule, which is essential to its pathogenicity.
  • The Vi capsule aids in the bacteria’s ability to avoid being found and taken up by host immune cells, especially macrophages, for phagocytosis.
  • It keeps the bacterium safe from complement-mediated lysis, extending its life in the circulation.

2.    Type III Secretion System (T3SS)

  • S. typhi secretes virulence proteins, or effectors, directly into host cells through an advanced T3SS.
  • This secretion system is essential for the invasion of host cells because it makes it easier for effectors to be injected, which alters host cell functions and encourages bacterial penetration.

3.    Adhesion Proteins

  • The adhesion proteins on the surface of S. typhi are essential to the early stages of infection because they help the bacterium attach to small intestine epithelial cells.
  • They also aid in the invasion of host cells, which is a necessary step towards the establishment of infection.

4.    Invasion Genes

  • The process of invasion involves genes that encode proteins TysB and TysC.
  • These genes aid in S. typhi’s capacity to infiltrate and breach intestinal epithelial cells, a crucial stage in typhoid fever pathogenesis.

5.    Resistant to Bile Salts

  • Resistant to Bile Salts: S. typhi possesses defense mechanisms against the intestine’s bile salts’ antibacterial properties.
  • The bacterium can reach and colonize the small intestine because of its enhanced ability to survive in the tough circumstances of the gastrointestinal tract due to bile resistance.

6.    Iron Acquisition Systems

  • S. typhi has developed complex mechanisms to obtain iron, a necessary nutrient, from the host.
  • In the host, where iron supply is restricted, these methods for acquiring iron, such as siderophores and particular receptors, aid in the survival and proliferation of the bacteria.
Figure 3 Salmonella virulence factors | Source:


1. Typhoidal Strain (Salmonella Typhi)

  • Clinical Features: Typhoid fever, attributed to Salmonella Typhi, manifests as prolonged high fever, abdominal pain, headache, and gastrointestinal symptoms. Severe cases may lead to intestinal perforation and potentially fatal complications.
  • Infection Transmission: Mainly through the fecal-oral route, commonly linked to contaminated food and water.

2. Para typhoidal Strains (Salmonella Para typhi A, B, C)

  • Clinical Features: Paratyphoid fever, caused by Salmonella Para typhi strains, exhibits symptoms akin to typhoid fever but is generally less severe, presenting with fever, abdominal discomfort, and gastrointestinal issues.
  • Infection Transmission: Similar to typhoid, transmission occurs via the fecal-oral route.

These Salmonella Typhi strains and related species contribute to systemic infections with a predominant impact on the gastrointestinal tract. Typhoid and paratyphoid fevers pose considerable public health challenges, particularly in areas characterized by inadequate sanitation and limited access to clean water.

Figure 4 Clinical manifestation of human salmonellosis. | Source: MDPI Article


Salmonella Typhi infections necessitate a meticulous diagnostic approach, combining clinical evaluation with specialized laboratory tests for accurate identification and differentiation from other pathogens:

Clinical Assessment A comprehensive physical examination and detailed medical history are integral components of diagnosing Salmonella Typhi infections.

Diagnostic Techniques

  1. Blood Culture
    • Isolation and characterization of Salmonella Typhi from blood samples.
    • The primary method for confirming the presence of the bacterium in the bloodstream.
  2. Stool Culture
    • Identifying Salmonella Typhi from stool samples, aiding in assessing gastrointestinal involvement.
    • Fundamental in confirming the presence of the bacterium in the digestive system.
  3. Molecular Tests (PCR)
    • Rapid detection of Salmonella Typhi DNA in clinical samples for precise identification.
  4. Serological Tests
    • Identification of antibodies or the immune system’s response to Salmonella Typhi.
    • Serology tests assist in confirming the presence of the bacterium in the bloodstream.

Identification Techniques

  1. Gram Staining
    • Initial classification based on cell wall characteristics visible under a microscope.
    • Gram-negative Bacilli (Pink rods) were observed with an oil immersion lens.
  • Selective Medium Culturing
    • Growth of Salmonella Typhi on XLD agar and HE agar, aiding in differentiation. Specific features may be observed on both agar media optimized for Salmonella Typhi.
    • Black-centered colonies are produced on both agars along with a color change in agar along the colony periphery due to fermentation of sugars.
  • Biochemical Tests help in the determination of metabolic characteristics through tests like Citrate Utilization test, Urease Test, Triple Sugar Iron (TSI) Agar Test, and SIMs Agar Test (Sulphide, Indole, and Motility Testing).
  • Analytical Profile Index (API) Strips enable rapid identification of Salmonella Typhi through specific biochemical processes.
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) is the molecular characterization of S. Typhi which assists in identifying specific Salmonella Typhi DNA sequences.
  • Widal Test is serological agglutination test detecting antibodies against Salmonella Typhi antigens.
  • Sereny Test is specific for Enteropathogenic Salmonella Typhi strains, associated with certain clinical manifestations such as conjunctivitis.
  • Cell Culture Test evaluates Salmonella Typhi’s ability to enter and multiply within host cells.


Medical Attention and Supportive Care

  • Supportive care, such as drinking enough water, can help manage the majority of Salmonella Typhi infections.
  • Patients with digestive difficulties are urged to drink lots of fluids and think about over-the-counter anti-diarrheal drugs, as these symptoms often go away on their own.
  • Medical professionals will analyze the infection’s severity and recommend the best course of action in situations of severe Salmonella Typhi infections, especially if certain strains are implicated.

Antibiotic Treatment

  • The type and severity of the Salmonella Typhi infection determine whether antibiotic treatment is necessary. 
  • Fluoroquinolones, azithromycin, and third-generation cephalosporins are commonly recommended antibiotics. 
  • Healthcare providers customize antibiotic selection based on patient condition and regional resistance patterns.
  • The antibiotic of choice is chosen with the goal of efficiently treating the infection while taking resistance into account.

Drug Resistance

  • The advent of Salmonella Typhi strains that are resistant to drugs poses a serious threat to public health since resistance can restrict treatment options and raise the possibility of side effects.
  • Using antibiotics sparingly, taking prescriptions as directed, and participating in public health campaigns are all important parts of mitigating drug resistance.
  • Ongoing research and surveillance programs track and treat changing patterns of resistance in Salmonella Typhi.


  1. Hygiene and Handwashing: To reduce the spread of Salmonella Typhi, encourage frequent handwashing and cleanliness.
  2. Safe Food Practices: To avoid contamination, educate people on how to handle and cook food properly.
  3. Vaccination: Start immunizing regularly, paying special attention to those at high risk and areas experiencing outbreaks.
  4. Public health education: Run educational programs regarding signs and symptoms, how they spread, and how crucial it is to get medical help as soon as possible.
  5. Water Quality Management: Make sure that potable water is available and deal with any potential sources of waterborne infection.
  6. Surveillance and Monitoring: Put in place reliable procedures for keeping an eye out for antibiotic resistance and Salmonella Typhi infections.
  7. International Cooperation: Promote worldwide cooperation to exchange data, and assets, and tackle issues.
  8. Quarantine and Isolation Measures: Use effective isolation and quarantine procedures to stop the spread of Salmonella Typhi in both public and medical settings.
  9. Vector Control: Take care of the things that flies and other vectors like them contribute to.
  10. Community Engagement: Encourage individuals to take an active role in health protection by involving local communities in forums, initiatives, and educational programmes like seminars and symposiums.


Typhoid fever’s causal agent, Salmonella Typhi, has a major negative influence on world health, especially in areas with inadequate access to clean water and poor sanitation. These regions continue to have endemic illness, which has a significant morbidity and mortality rate. The main ways that it spreads are through tainted food and water.

In an effort to lessen the overall burden, ongoing global efforts include immunisation programmes and projects to enhance sanitation. Treatment is becoming increasingly difficult, as drug-resistant forms are emerging.

In order to monitor and report cases and improve our understanding of the epidemiological landscape, surveillance systems are essential. Sustained international collaboration is necessary to address issues like antibiotic resistance and healthcare access.


  1. Water Quality Assessment: To help identify any pollution and guarantee clean drinking water, Salmonella Typhi is used as an indicator organism in water quality examinations.
  2. Wastewater Monitoring: Keeping an eye on the amount of Salmonella Typhi in wastewater makes it easier to evaluate the efficacy of sanitation measures and the risk of waterborne transmission.
  3. Food Safety Testing: To guarantee the quality and safety of food products, Salmonella Typhi is a common pathogen utilized in the industrial sector for food safety testing.
  4. Vaccine manufacture and Testing: Using Salmonella Typhi strains to create immunization plans against typhoid illness, industrial applications include vaccine manufacture and testing.
  5. Research and Development: The bacterium is used in a number of studies related to research and development, which helps to improve treatment choices, diagnostic tools, and preventive measures.
  6. Bioremediation Studies: The possible function of Salmonella Typhi in bioremediation is investigated, highlighting its capacity to interact with environmental pollutants.
  7. Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: The pharmaceutical sectors use Salmonella Typhi for certain research purposes, which aids in the creation of pharmaceuticals products and therapies.
  8. Genetic Engineering Research: Genetic engineering research has been conducted on Salmonella Typhi, offering valuable information about its pathogenic characteristics and possible uses in industrial and medical domains.
  9. Environmental Impact Assessments: Identifying the existence and behavior of Salmonella Typhi in various settings is crucial for comprehending the ecological consequences of the disease and developing practical preventative measures.
  10. Development of Diagnostic Tools: The bacterium plays a key role in the creation of diagnostic instruments that improve the precision and efficacy of the identification of Salmonella Typhi infections in environmental and clinical samples.


  • Authors. Levinson W, & Chin-Hong P, & Joyce E.A., & Nussbaum J, & Schwartz B(Eds.), (2020). Review of Medical Microbiology & Immunology: A Guide to Clinical Infectious Diseases, 16e. McGraw Hill. 
  • Crump, J. A., & Mintz, E. D. (2010). Global trends in typhoid and paratyphoid Fever. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 50(2), 241-246.
  • Parry, C. M., Hien, T. T., Dougan, G., White, N. J., & Farrar, J. J. (2002). Typhoid fever. New England Journal of Medicine, 347(22), 1770-1782.
  • Buckle, G. C., Walker, C. L. F., & Black, R. E. (2012). Typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever: Systematic review to estimate global morbidity and mortality for 2010. Journal of Global Health, 2(1), 010401.
  • Dougan, G., Baker, S., & Salmonella Typhi Working Group. (2014). Antigenic variation in the bacterial pathogen Salmonella Typhi. Current Opinion in Microbiology, 17, 24-30.
  • Wain, J., Diep, T. S., Ho, V. A., Walsh, A. M., & Nguyen, T. T. (1998). Quantitation of bacteria in blood of typhoid fever patients and relationship between counts and clinical features, transmissibility, and antibiotic resistance. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 36(6), 1683-1687.
  • Lozano, R., Naghavi, M., Foreman, K., Lim, S., Shibuya, K., Aboyans, V., … & Murray, C. J. (2012). Global and regional mortality from 235 causes of death for 20 age groups in 1990 and 2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet, 380(9859), 2095-2128.
  • Ochiai, R. L., Wang, X., von Seidlein, L., Yang, J., Bhutta, Z. A., Bhattacharya, S. K., … & Clemens, J. D. (2005). Salmonella Paratyphi A rates, Asia. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 11(11), 1764.
Bareera Aatif
Bareera Aatif

Bareera Aatif is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology at the University of Central Punjab, Lahore. With a strong practical foundation gained from a six-month internship at Ferozsons Pharmaceutical Laboratories - BF Biosciences and a one-month experience at PepsiCo International, she combines academic rigor with real-world expertise. Beyond academics, Bareera actively contributes to university societies as an event manager, content writer, and graphics designer, showcasing her versatile skill set. Her commitment to microbiological research and dedication to continuous learning positions her as a promising professional poised for impactful contributions in the field.

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