What is shigella infection that spread in Kerala’s Kozhikode district; details

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After their preliminary treatment, all patients were discharged from the hospital Dr Jayasree added. (Credit: The Indian Express)After six cases of shigella infection were traced in the Kozhikode district of Kerala last week, the state health department officials called emergency meetings to impose preventive measures to control the spread of infection. In addition to the six confirmed cases of shigella infection, more than a dozen suspected cases have also been zeroed in by the health officials in the city, the India Express reported.

What is shigella infection that has alarmed the Kozhikode district administration?
Shigellosis or shigella infection is a sort of intestinal infection which is caused by a genus of bacteria known as shigella. The same bacteria is also understood to be the prime reason for the occurrence of diarrhea especially among children in the African and South Asian countries. The lethal bacteria enters the body through ingestion and harms the epithelial lining of the colon resulting in severe inflammation and subsequent damage to the cells. The bacteria is so lethal that only a minute number of bacteria can cause havoc in a person’s body.

How serious is the spread of shigella infection in Kozhikode district?
Health officials have said that the infection has been taken under control and there are no reasons to worry. The first case of shigella infection in the city came to light when an 11 year old child was referred to the Kozhikode Medical College Hospital last week after severe diarrhea. After his condition worsened, the child died in the hospital. According to the Indian Express report, many people who had visited the child’s home after his funeral must have eaten or drunk something at his home leading to worsening their condition as well. After the analysis of the people who had visited the child’s home, six people were found to be suffering from shigella infection.

DMO Dr Jayasree told the Indian Express that most of the suspected cases were that of children and they were admitted into the hospitals without wasting time. After their preliminary treatment, all patients were discharged from the hospital Dr Jayasree added.

What are the most common symptoms of shigella infection?
In less than 24-48 hours after the entry of the bacteria in the body, the infected person may start experiencing related diarrhea including stomach pain, nausea, vomiting among others. However, physicians have also reported cases of shigella infection where patients do not exhibit any of the mentioned symptoms.

How does shigella infection spread?
It gets transmitted from person to person after the bacteria has been ingested by the person accidentally. For example, the infection might start if the person who has changed the diaper of the baby and eats food with the same hands without washing hands. Contamination of food and water is also a common method by which the bacteria might enter inside the human body.

How severe is shigella infection?
In most cases, the patients of shigella infection might experience diarrhea like problems for a couple of days after which the symptoms start fading away. However, if the symptoms of diarrhea continue for more than a week then it is advisable to consult a doctor. In extreme cases where the patient ignores the symptoms for more than a fortnight, the condition might become critical and even lead to death of the patient.

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