Nasty Infectious Diseases You Want To Avoid - Shigellosis
This is a bacterial diarrheal disease caused by the bacterium Shigella, which includes four different species. The disease is common among the developing countries, nourished or weak will be much sicker. where lack of sewage treatment leads to contaminated food and water.
Two thirds of cases are found in children between 6 months and 10 years of age, although it is rare in infants under age 6 months. The highest rates of infection occur in child care centers, large campgrounds, and institutions.
A person is infectious from the time the diarrhea appears until the bacteria are no longer in the stool, which could take a month. Antibiotics shorten the infectious period to a week.
Cause - Shiga toxin is named after Kiyoshi Shiga, who in 1898 first described the bacterial origin of dysentery caused by Shigella dysenteriae. The Shigella bacteria are found in milk and dairy products, poultry, and mixed salads, but they can develop in any moist food that is not thoroughly cooked. The bacteria multiply rapidly at or above room temperature. S. sonnei is the mildest of the four, and is responsible for most cases around the world. S. dysenteriae (also known as bacillary dysentery) is fairly common in rural Africa and India, where it causes illness and numerous deaths. A person gets sick after ingesting bacteria; it only takes a few organisms to cause illness. The bacteria may be found in contaminated bodies of water or in food that is left out in the open where flies can contaminate it. Dogs who eat infected human feces can spread the infection to humans (especially children), and the disease can also be spread sexually with anal to oral contact.
Symptoms - Symptoms, which usually appear eight hours to eight days after ingestion, begin with nausea and vomiting, watery or bloody explosive diarrhea and stomach cramps, weakness, vision problems, headache, and difficulty swallowing. Those with weakened immune systems may have more serious diarrhea and may take longer to recover. Young children have more serious symptoms, and those children already malnourished or weak will be much sicker.
Diagnosis - Culture of the stool will reveal Shigella.
Treatment - Most people with shigellosis recover on their own. Some may require fluids to prevent dehydration. To shorten severe cases, antibiotics will help stop the diarrhea, although Shigella has become resistant to some drugs. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, ciprofloxacin, or orofloxacin are usually effective and some strains are susceptible to tetracycline. Those who are infected in a developing country may respond better to nalidixic acid, since the bacteria in those locations are widely resistant. Antidiarrheal medications should not be taken. Dilute drinks high in sugar and bland foods high in carbohydrates are tolerated best by the patient.
Prevention - Confirmed Shigella cases must be reported to the health department, which will begin an investigation and control measures in order to prevent large-scale outbreaks. Although several vaccines have been tested, none have yet been licensed for use in preventing the disease. The single most important way to prevent the spread of disease is to carefully wash hands after using the toilet, since Shigella is passed in feces.
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