Foodborne Illnesses: Shigellosis Infection

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Shigellosis Infection
Shigellosis Infection

Shigellosis is a type of food poisoning that is caused by an infection with the bacterium Shigella. It affects thousands of people each year, but children between ages two and four are the most common victims. Shigellosis is easily transmitted from one person to another. It takes ingestion of only less than 100 bacteria to cause symptoms to occur. The most common type of shigellosis is caused by the strain Shigella sonei, although there are more strains that can cause food poisoning as well.

Foods with Increased Risk of Shigellosis Infection

Shigella is not naturally present in food, thus it is usually accidentally transmitted to food from water polluted by human sewage. It is also possible to contaminate food from handling by an infected person and by cross-contamination due to unsanitary food handling practices. The following foods are at higher risk to carry shigellosis infection:

  • Raw oysters and shellfish from contaminated waters
  • Vegetables from fields with contaminated sewage
  • Salads that make use of pasta, seafood, poultry, different fruits and vegetables
  • Chopped turkey
  • Rice balls
  • Beans
  • Pudding
  • Deli meats
  • Unpasteurized milk
  • Water contaminated sewage

Causes of Shigellosis Infection

                There are different ways of transmitting shigellosis infection from one person to another. It is possible to be a carrier of Shigella without being aware of it. Shigellosis infection outbreak is more common in places where there are poor hygiene practices and under conditions of crowding.

  • Person-to-person
    • Direct contact with hands that were not washed properly
    • Not washing hands with soap after using the toilet
    • Not washing hands before handling food
  • Animal-to-person
    • Flies breeding in contaminated stool then contaminate other surfaces
  • Poor Quality Water
    • Drinking contaminated water
    • Bathing in contaminated waters
    • Eating contaminated food
    • Contaminated Surfaces

Signs and Symptoms of Shigellosis Infection

The incubation period of Shigella is usually one to three days, but may extend to as long as seven days. The infection usually lasts from two to seven days. The following are the signs and symptoms of a Shigella infection:

  • Abrupt abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhoea that may be bloody or may contain mucus
  • Fever

First Aid Management for Shigellosis Infection

The main goal for treatment for Shigellosis infection is to treat the symptoms and avoid dehydration from occurring. The following tips can help manage a Shigellosis infection:

  • Antibiotics are usually given to treat shigellosis infection, but this may not work in all types of Shigella bacteria.
  • Take plenty of rest.
  • Drink eight to ten glasses of clear fluids, preferably water.
  • Drink a cup of water or any rehydration drink after a large, loose stool
  • Instead of eating three big meals, eat small meals instead.
  • Put some salty food in the diet, such as pretzels, soup, and sports drinks. Add foods high in potassium, such as bananas, potatoes without the skin and fruit juices with plenty of water.
  • It is not ideal to take anti-diarrheal medications as it may cause the infection to last longer.

Disclaimer: This article does not provide medical advice and should not be substituted for formal training. The information given should not be used for self-diagnosis. Seek medical attention when necessary. It is important to recognise potential medical emergencies at all times to avoid complications from developing. To learn more about how to manage Shigellosis infection, enrol in First Aid Courses and CPR Courses with Red Cross Training.

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