Shigellosis Definition and Symptoms

An illness resulting from infection with any of numerous strains of shigella bacteria. Shigellosis most commonly occurs as a foodborne illness, producing symptoms of fever, abdominal cramping, and bloody diarrhea within about 12 hours of infection with the bacteria. The illness is generally self-limiting, running its course in five to seven days.

Most people recover fully, though for a small percentage the bacteria infect other areas of the body such as the joints, causing the chronic condition Reiter’s syndrome.

Treatment

Doctors may prescribe antibiotic medications for the very young, the very old, and people who are immunocompromised or who have unusually severe and extended symptoms. Ampicillin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (TMP-STZ) combination, and ciprofloxacin are among the antibiotics doctors more commonly prescribe.

Diligent personal hygiene and frequent hand washing are the most effective means to curtail the spread of shigellosis from one person to another.

See also ANTIBIOTIC RESISTANCEFOODBORNE ILLNESSES; FOOD SAFETY; WATERBORNE ILLNESSES.

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