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A Guide to Foodborne Illnesses: Shigellosis

Sarah Williams

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Sarah Williams | October 7, 2013 | 0

What Is Shigellosis?You finished off a sandwich for lunch and suddenly feel sick. Every now and then you have an unfortunate encounter with diarrhea and upset stomach, but this one’s like the worse you’ve had in years. Come a few hours later, you are running a fever. And then the next day, you had bloody bowels. You need to consult a doctor immediately because you may have been infected with Shigella.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that over 14,000 Shigellosis incidences occur in the United States. Like other foodborne illnesses, the infection is more common in summer than winter. Toddlers aged between two and four are most susceptible to the infection. Read on to know more about Shigellosis. (If you want to know more about preventing the spread of foodborne illnesses, you may also get a food safety license by enrolling in a food safety class.)

What is Shigellosis?

Shigellosis is a type of foodborne illness that is caused by Shigella, a bacterium that causes diarrhea and dysentery. According to Foodsafety.gov, Shigella is an infectious disease that can spread from person to person through food and water contamination and human contact. Foodsafety.gov also reports that just a little amount of the bacteria is enough to get you sick. Incidences of Shigellosis are prevalent in schools for children. The infection is also most common among travelers.

According to research done by the National Institute of Health, Shigellosis is also known in the medical world as Shigella gastroenteritis; Shigella enteritis; Enteritis- shigella or Gastroenteritis- shigella.

Where can you get shigellosis?

According to the CDC, you can get Shigellosis from the following:

  • Eating food contaminated with the bacteria. Often times, the food gets contaminated by food handlers with poor hygiene and hand-washing habits, especially after using the bathroom.
  • Particular sexual activities;
  • Vegetables grown at locations near sewers;
  • Flies that breed or touched contaminated feces then lands on food;
  • Drinking or swimming in contaminated water

What are the symptoms of shigellosis?

Shigellosis’s symptoms will manifest in one to three days. Symptoms include abdominal cramping, fever, nausea and vomiting and bloody stool. The stool may also contain mucus.

What can be done?

Antibiotics may be prescribed to patients dealing with shigellosis according to the National Library of Medicine. These antibiotics include sulfamethoxazole, trimethoprim, ampicilin, ciprofloxacin and azithromycin. They essentially help in hastening recovery and preventing the spread of the infection. Some strains, however, have developed resistance to certain medications.

Treating shigellosis also focuses on replacing lost fluids and electrolytes in the body because of diarrhea. This can be done by drinking electrolytes-filled drinks or solutions.


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