Shigellosis: Overview

Modified on 2009/10/14 21:40 by admin
Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a family of bacteria called Shigella. Most people infected with Shigella develop diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacterium. Shigellosis usually goes away within a week but some individuals, especially young children and the elderly, can suffer severe diarrhea that requires hospitalization. Some persons who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others.

Shigella bacteria are present in the diarrheal stools of infected persons while they are sick and for a week or two afterwards. Most Shigella infections occur when bacteria passes from stools or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another. This is usually the result of inadequate hand washing and hygiene.

Shigellosis can result from eating food contaminated by food handlers who forget to wash their hands with soap after using the bathroom.

Shigella infections can also be acquired by drinking or swimming in contaminated water. Water can become contaminated if sewage runs into it, or if someone with shigellosis swims in it.

Every year, about 18,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States. The actual numbers may be twenty times higher though because many milder cases of shigellosis go unreported.

Shigellosis is more common in summer than winter. Children, especially between 2 to 4 years, are the most likely to get shigellosis. It is particularly likely to occur among toddlers who are not fully toilet-trained. Family members and playmates of such children are at high risk of becoming infected.

See Also

  1. Infections
  2. Food Products & Restaurants
  3. Pool Accidents
  4. Shigella: Overview
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