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Shigella Bacteria Outbreak

Context:

The recent instance of probable food poisoning in Kasaragod district, Kerala, is thought to be the result of a shigella bacteria outbreak. The bacteria were found earlier this year in Kerela’s Koyilandy area.

Relevance:

GS II- Health

Dimensions of the Article: 

  1. About Shigella Bacteria
  2. Symptoms
  3. Treatment Protocol

About Shigella Bacteria

  • Shigella is a bacterium that belongs to the enterobacter family — a group of bacteria that reside in the intestine, not all of which cause disease in humans.
  • It mainly affects the intestine and results in diarrhoea, sometimes bloody, stomach pain, and fever.
  • The infection spreads easily as it takes only “a small number of bacteria to make someone ill”, says the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • It is a food- and water-borne infection, and can happen when someone consumes contaminated food — like in the case from Kerala — unwashed fruit or vegetables.
  • The disease is easily spread by direct or indirect contact with the excrement of the patient.
    • You can get the infection if you swim or take a bath in contaminated water.
  • Shigella outbreaks appear to be exacerbated during pregnancy and in children under five years of age, and in those with weakened immune systems.

There are four types of Shigella bacteria that affect humans —

  • Shigella sonnei
  • Shigella flexneri
  • Shigella boydii
  • Shigella dysenteriae

The fourth type causes the most severe disease because of the toxin it produces.

Symptoms
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • stomach cramps which can last for seven days.

Treatment Protocol

  • The maintenance of hydration and electrolyte balance is the cornerstone of shigella treatment.
  • Antibiotics are advised for reducing sickness duration and preventing transmission, despite the fact that shigellosis is mostly self-limiting.
    • Third-generation cephalosporins (ceftriaxone or cefixime) and macrolides are the current treatments of choice (azithromycin).
  • Handwashing is reported to lower shigella transmission by 70% in public places.
    • Exclusion of shigellosis patients from work, food preparation, and childcare is recommended as a public health control intervention.

-Source: Indian Express

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June 2022
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