Shigellosis is a type of food poisoning caused by infection with the shigella bacterium. Every year, about 14,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States. It is more common in summer than winter. Children ages 2 to 4 are most likely to get the condition.
Shigellosis is spread when the bacteria in feces (stool) or on soiled fingers are ingested. Poor hand-washing habits and eating contaminated food may cause the condition. Shigellosis is often found in day care centers, nursing homes, refugee camps, and other places where conditions are crowded and sanitation is poor.
Shigellosis is likely to occur among toddlers who are not fully toilet trained. Family members and playmates of infected children are also at high risk of becoming infected.
Food may become contaminated by infected food handlers who do not wash their hands with soap after using the bathroom.
Vegetables can be contaminated if they are harvested from a field that has sewage in it. Also, flies can breed in infected feces and then contaminate food.
Shigellosis can result from drinking or swimming in contaminated water. Water may become contaminated if sewage runs into it or if someone with shigellosis swims in it.
Shigellosis also can be spread through sex, especially through anal and oral sex.
Shigellosis is usually treated with antibiotics. But some types of Shigella bacteria are not killed by antibiotics. This is called resistance. Because using antibiotics can make these bacteria even more resistant, mild cases of shigellosis are often not treated with antibiotics. In this case, shigellosis is treated by managing complications until it passes. Dehydration caused by diarrhea is the most common complication. Do not use medicines to prevent diarrhea.
To prevent dehydration, take frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte). Try to drink a cup of water or rehydration drink for each large, loose stool you have. Soda and fruit juices have too much sugar and not enough of the important electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea, and they should not be used to rehydrate. If severe dehydration takes place, or if attempts to restore electrolytes are unfruitful, re-hydration via IV may be administered.
Try to stay with your normal diet as much as possible. Eating your usual diet will help you to get enough nutrition. Doctors believe that eating a normal diet will also help you feel better faster. But try to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Also avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee for 2 days after all symptoms have disappeared.
- Stomach pain or discomfort
- Blood, mucous, or pus in stools
- Dry mouth
- Increased thirst
- Nausea or vomiting
- Stomach cramps
- Sudden fever
- Rectal pain
In more accelerated or severe cases, these symptoms may become present:
- Arthritis (Reactive)
- Kidney Failure
- Lethargy and confusion