What is Shigella? Know what are Shigella symptoms, treatment and how to prevent the bacteria

Shigella Infection: A teenage girl passed away in Kerala after eating Shawarma from an eatery and Shigella bacteria has been identified as the cause. Shigella mainly affects the intestine and results in diarrhoea, sometimes bloody, fever and stomach pain. 

Created On: May 6, 2022 11:33 IST
Shigella case in Kerala
Shigella case in Kerala

Shigella treatment: A teenage girl, earlier this week, passed away and about 30 people were admitted to the hospital in Kasaragod, Kerala after eating Shawarma from an eatery. The Health Department of Kerala identified Shigella bacteria as the cause of the food poisoning incident in the region.

Shigella bacteria presence was confirmed in the blood and faeces of those who were admitted after eating chicken shawarma from an eatery in Kasaragod. The owner and the staff were arrested after the incident and the Kerala High Court has also taken cognizance of the incident and has sought the government’s stand on it.

What is Shigella?

Shigella is one of the major bacterial causes of diarrhea worldwide. It is a bacterium that belongs to the Enterobacter family which is a group of bacteria that reside in the intestine, not all of which cause disease in humans.

Shigella bacteria mainly affects the intestine and results in diarrhoea, sometimes bloody, fever and stomach pain. The infection by Shigella spreads easily as it only takes a small number of bacteria to make someone ill. It is a food and water-borne infection that can happen when someone consumes contaminated food, unwashed vegetable or fruit.

Shigella infection can also be caught if you swim or take a bath in the contaminated water.

Shigella infection: How common it is?

Shigella happens, however, the infection is not very common. Perhaps one in 100 cases of diarrhoea will be shigellosis. The outbreaks of Shigella are more common and severe during the pregnancy, in those with a weakened immune system, and in children under the age of 5 years.

As per the CDC, there are four types of Shigella bacteria that affects humans- Shigella Sonnei, Shigella flexneri, Shigella boydii and Shigella dysenteriae. The fourth type of infection causes the most severe disease because of the toxin it produces.

Shigella Symptoms

Shigella bacteria directly affects the intestine. The person infected with Shigella experiences diarrhoea, sometimes bloody, fever, stomach pain and constant vomiting.

When to see a doctor in Shigella infection?

If the infected individual is suffering from severe diarrhoea, meaning 20 or more bowel movements in a day, they should go to a doctor immediately. However, a patient with mild symptoms can wait for three to four days before going to a doctor.

Also, if the individual is running a fever of 101 degrees F or higher, one must immediately approach a doctor.

Does Shigella infection leads to death?

Shigella infection does not generally result in the death of the infected person unless the patient has a weak immune system. The infection can turn fatal if the bacteria is resistant to the medicines.

Shigella Treatment

The treatment for Shigella is prescribed generally by the doctor, however, since the bacteria affects the intestine causing severe diarrohea, keeping yourself hydrated with plenty of liquid intakes will help in the treatment along with the prescribed medicines.

How to prevent Shigella?

In this case also, the person should take the same precautions as for any food and water-borne diseases. To prevent Shigella, people should wash hands thoroughly before and after a meal, and ensure that fruits and vegetables are fresh and the drinking water is clean.

It must also be ensured that the products such as milk, fish, and chicken that have a higher tendency to spoil must be kept at a proper temperature and must also be cooked well.

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