Shigellosis, What is it?

WHAT IS SHIGELLOSIS?

Shigellosis is a gastrointestinal infection caused by a bacterium called Shigella. It is a disease of the intestines and stomach; organs that control digestion. It is a bacteria that is transmitted in stool from persons with the infection.

Some people do not have symptoms but may be carriers of Shigella. Infection with Shigella presents with watery stools also known as diarrhea; blood and mucus in stool also known as dysentery.

This occurs 1 to 2 days after exposure to the bacteria. It is often seen in people who live in unclean or over-crowded places. It has been found that shigellosis can spread in rural areas, prisons, mental institutions and over-crowded camps where good hygiene is lacking.

HOW IS SHIGELLOSIS TRANSMITTED?

1. It can be transmitted orally (through the mouth) by ingestion of unclean food or water
2. Houseflies can transmit it when they transport infected faeces to food or water source.
3. It can be transmitted through sexual contact with an infected person.
4. From fingers that are dirty with stool or faeces.
5. Ingestion of contaminated water when swimming.

HOW DO WE KNOW THAT A PERSON IS INFECTED WITH SHIGELLOSIS?

There are signs and symptoms used to suspect shigella infection. They are: 1. Loss of appetite

2. Prolonged fever

3. Watery stools with blood, mucus or pus

4. Stomach cramps

5. Constant vomiting

6. Weight loss

7. Painful sensation of needing to pass stool (tenesmus). If these symptoms are seen in a person, infection with shigellosis should be suspected.

WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS?

Diagnosis is the process of determining the presence of a disease from signs and symptoms suspected. Shigella can be detected by stool microscopy and stool culture. PCR test is done in developed countries.

HOW DO WE CONTROL AND PREVENT SHIGELLOSIS?

1. Washing of hands before and after eating
2. Washing raw consumable foods before eating
3. Daily cleaning of the environment
4. Taking and filtering water from a good source
5. Proper disposal of household waste.
6. Persons with Shigella infection should not prepare food if diarrhea is still ongoing.
7. Washing hands before and after going to the toilet.

HOW IS SHIGELLOSIS TREATED?

In mild cases of Shigella infection, fluids and rest may be adequate, however if the infection is serious then antibiotics are given empirically while waiting for the stool culture results which should be done to assess for the presence of resistant shigella and to determine the appropriate antibiotics.
Complications of Shigella can include dehydration, arthritis, seizures, kidney damage and serious bowel problems.

IN SUMMARY:

Shigellosis is a diarrheal disease that can be seen in unhygienic places. Maintaining a clean environment can help prevent this disease. When a person is suspected with the disease, medical care from a medical doctor should be sought.

Written with C. Chijioke, Student of Biology

Dr. Ngozi Onuoha. Copyright 2016, Health4Naija LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This site serves to provide information for Education. You should seek the attention of your Medical provider for any health matters.

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