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Shigella Bacteria Outbreak

  • 05 May 2022
  • 3 min read

Why in News?

An outbreak of shigella bacteria is believed to be the reason behind the recent incident of suspected food poisoning in Kasaragod district, Kerala.

  • Earlier in 2019, the bacteria were found in Koyilandy district, Kerela.

What is Shigella Bacteria?

  • About: Shigella is a genus of bacteria that causes an infection called shigellosis. It is the second leading cause of diarrhea (after Rotavirus) worldwide and the third leading cause of death in children less than 5 years old.
    • The annual number of shigellosis episodes throughout the world is estimated to be 164.7 million.
  • Possible Symptoms: Symptoms include diarrhoea, fever, stomach cramps which can last for seven days.
  • Transmission: Shigella is generally transmitted through contaminated food or water, or through person-to-person contact.
    • Shigellosis is primarily a disease of poor and crowded communities that do not have adequate sanitation or safe water.
  • Incubation Period: The incubation period of shigellosis is typically 1–4 days.
  • Different Species: The severity of the disease varies by the infecting species:
    • Shigella dysenteriae infections usually cause dysentery, which may also occur in infection with Shigella flexneri .
    • Shigella boydii and Shigella sonnei often have self-limited watery diarrhea.
  • Vaccines: Currently, there are no vaccines available for shigellosis.
  • Medium Priority Bacteria: Due to the increasing rate of multidrug resistance, in particular resistance to fluoroquinolone in Asian and African regions, this has been classified as a medium priority for research and development of new and effective antibiotic treatments by the WHO Priority Pathogens List of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

What is the Treatment Protocol?

  • Hydration: The cornerstone of shigella treatment is the maintenance of hydration and electrolyte balance.
    • In young children, oral rehydration with a reduced osmolarity solution is indicated to treat the WHO-defined category of some dehydration and is preferable to intravenous fluids unless severe dehydration is present.
  • Use of Antibiotics: Although shigellosis is primarily self-limiting, antibiotics are recommended for reducing illness duration and for preventing transmission.
    • The current drugs of choice are third-generation cephalosporins (ceftriaxone or cefixime) and macrolides (azithromycin).
  • Public Hygiene: Handwashing is said to reduce shigella transmission by 70%. Recommended public health control measures are exclusion of ill people with shigellosis from work, food preparation, and childcare.

Source: TH

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