Diarrhea may be a symptom of several diseases, like the flu, but shigellosis is a particularly virulent form of diarrhea caused by the shigella bacteria. With shigellosis, diarrhea often comes out with blood and pus. You can get infected with the shigella bacteria by eating contaminated food prepared by someone who did not wash their hands well after defecating.
The symptoms of shigellosis develop up to a week after being infected with the Shigella bacteria. When the Shigella invades the intestinal cells, the bacteria release the shiga toxin, which destroys the inside of the intestine. This destruction causes blood and pus, typical of this infection. In addition to diarrhea, you may also experience abdominal pain. The symptoms may be mild, or be severe enough to require hospitalization.
Shigella bacteria are found in the loose stools of an infected person and can spread to others through the fecal-oral route. Shigellosis can also be contracted by eating vegetables contaminated with wastewater or by ingesting water from contaminated swimming pools. The condition is especially common in developing countries and in young children, or residents of nursing homes.
The doctor can diagnose shigellosis by doing a stool test to detect the presence of Shigella bacteria. The treatment consists of a regimen of antibiotics such as ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin or the combination of trimethoprim and sulfamethoxazole.
Prevention is key to stopping the spread if someone has shigellosis. Use basic safety measures with food, such as washing your hands thoroughly with hot water and soap after using the bathroom. If you are traveling, drink only boiled or bottled water. Bottled water is the safest option, but keep in mind that some unscrupulous sellers can fill used bottles with contaminated water; always buy your water in reliable places, such as a hotel or a restaurant. Also, avoid fresh fruits and vegetables that may have been washed with contaminated water.
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