Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shigella Infection

I just heard about the bacterial infection known as shigellosis today. Kids are most susceptible, so I thought I should pass on the information. Peoria County, Illinois is seeing a high number of cases of the illness right now.

What is Shigella Infection?:

A bacterial infection that typically results in several days of diarrhea and can lead to hospitalization.

Here are the symptoms according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

  • Diarrhea (usually bloody)

  • Fever

  • Stomach Cramps

  • Can cause seizures in kids under 2-years-old

  • Symptoms last 5-7 days

How do people catch Shigellosis?

Most Shigella infections are the result of the bacterium passing from stools or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person. (Wow, that's disgusting!)

How is Shigella Infection diagnosed?

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.

What antibiotics are recommended to treat Shigella Infection?:

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.

How can we prevent Shigella from spreading?

You guessed it. Simple hand washing with soap and water is our best bet.

-NewsAnchorMom Jen


Knight in Dragonland said...

Almost all cases of gastroenteritis (vomiting & diarrhea secondary to infection), both viral and bacterial, are transmitted by the fecal-oral route. Yes, if you've ever had a stomach bug (and we all have), you've literally eaten someone's #$%&. Lovely, eh?

While the Shigella bacterium is susceptible (sometimes) to the antibiotics you mentioned, it is not always treated with antibiotics. As with most cases of gastroenteritis, often it is treated with supportive care alone (replacing lost fluids & electrolytes, adding probiotics). Antibiotic treatment may just complicate matters further by killing off the normal enteric flora (good bugs that help our digestion) along with the Shigella. Antibiotic treatment should be reserved for severe cases and directed by culture sensitivities.

Antidiarrheals like Immodium (loperamide) are always a BAD idea in Shigellosis and other bacillary dysenteries, as they can retain toxins within your system.

One other complication of Shigellosis deserves mention ... hemolytic uremic syndrome, most commonly associated with E Coli O157:H7 (the perp in the Seattle Jack-in-the-Box outbreak). A toxin produced by the bacteria causes hemolysis (basically your red blood cells explode) and kidney failure. This is a fortunately rare but obviously serious complication.

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