an estimated 18,000 cases of shigellosis are reported. Each year, an estimated 18,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States. Because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be twenty times greater. Shigellosis is more common in summer than winter. Children, especially toddlers aged 2 to 4, are the most likely to get shigellosis. Many cases are related to the spread of illness in child-care settings, and many more are the result of the spread of the illness in families with small children.
Shigella is a genus of bacteria that can cause rapid and severe diarrhea in humans. Shigella thrives in the human intestine and is commonly spread both via food and by person-to-person contact. Shigellosis is the name of the disease that Shigella causes. The illness is also known as bacillary dysentery. The Shigella germ is actually a family of bacteria that can cause diarrhea in humans. They are microscopic living creatures that pass from person to person. The Shigella bacteria pass from one infected person to the next. Shigella are present in the diarrheal stools of infected persons while they are sick and for a week or two afterwards. Most Shigella infections are the result of the bacterium passing from stools or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person.
This happens when basic hygiene and handwashing habits are inadequate. 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. Shigella infections may be acquired from eating contaminated food. Contaminated food may look and smell normal. Infected food handlers who forget to wash their hands with soap after using the bathroom may contaminate food. Vegetables can become contaminated if they are harvested from a field with sewage in it. Flies can breed in infected feces and then contaminate food. Shigella infections can also be acquired by drinking or swimming in contaminated water. Water may become contaminated if sewage runs into it, or if someone with shigellosis swims in it.
Many different varieties of diseases can cause diarrhea and bloody diarrhea, and the treatment depends on which germ is causing the diarrhea. Determining that Shigella is the cause of the illness depends on laboratory tests that identify Shigella in the stools of an infected person. These tests are sometimes not performed unless the laboratory is instructed specifically to look for the organism. The laboratory can also do special tests to tell which type of Shigella the person has and which antibiotics, if any, would be best to treat it.
Shigellosis can typically be treated with antibiotics. The antibiotics commonly used for treatment are Ampicillin, Trimethoprim/Sulfamethoxazole (also known as Bactrim or Septra), Nalidixic acid, or Ciprofloxacin. Appropriate treatment kills the Shigella bacteria that might be present in the patient’s stools, and shortens the illness. Unfortunately, some Shigella bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics and using antibiotics to treat shigellosis can actually make the germs more resistant in the future.
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If you or a loved one experienced Shigella, a foodborne illness as a result of eating contaminated food, you may be entitled to compensation, please fill out the form at the right for a free case evaluation or call us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).