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Symptoms and Signs of Shigellosis (Shigella Infection)

Doctor's Notes on Shigellosis (Shigella Infection)

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. The four species of Shigella; Shigella sonnei, Shigella flexneri, Shigella boydii, and Shigella dysenteriae are responsible for the disease. Signs and symptoms of diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps characterize the disease. IN addition, there may be blood in the diarrhea and some people have the feeling of a need to move their bowels frequently. Infection with Shigella dysenteriae usually causes the most severe symptoms of dehydration, hemorrhagic colitis, seizures and death especially in young children.

The four species of Shigella; Shigella sonnei, Shigella flexneri, Shigella boydii, and Shigella dysenteriae are responsible for the disease with Shigella dysenteriae causing the most severe disease. Avoiding food and water contaminated with Shigella bacteria helps to prevent the disease.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/21/2019

Shigellosis (Shigella Infection) Symptoms

Symptoms and signs of shigellosis include

  • diarrhea (sometimes there may be blood in the diarrhea),
  • fever,
  • stomach pains and stomach cramps, and
  • tenesmus (continual or recurrent feeling the need to evacuate the bowels).

Shigellosis (Shigella Infection) Causes

The cause of shigellosis is infection of the gastrointestinal tract by Shigella bacteria. The bacterial cells invade gastrointestinal epithelial cells and multiply within them. As the bacteria multiply, they destroy epithelial cells and then spread to other epithelial cells. This progression of the disease may result in severe dysentery in some patients.

Bacterial Infections 101 Types, Symptoms, and Treatments Slideshow

Bacterial Infections 101 Types, Symptoms, and Treatments Slideshow

Bacteria are microscopic, single-cell organisms that live almost everywhere. Bacteria live in every climate and location on earth. Some are airborne while others live in water or soil. Bacteria live on and inside plants, animals, and people. The word "bacteria" has a negative connotation, but bacteria actually perform many vital functions for organisms and in the environment. For example, plants need bacteria in the soil in order to grow.

The vast majority of bacteria are harmless to people and some strains are even beneficial. In the human gastrointestinal tract, good bacteria aid in digestion and produce vitamins. They also help with immunity, making the body less hospitable to bad bacteria and other harmful pathogens. When considering all the strains of bacteria that exist, relatively few are capable of making people sick.

REFERENCE:

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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