What is Shigella, the bacteria that killed a girl after she ate shawarma in Kerala?
Kerala health department identified Shigella bacteria as the cause for the food poisoning incident in Kasaragod It claimed the life of a 16-year-old girl and led to 30-odd others being admitted to hospital.
What is Shigella?
- It 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.
- It is a food- and water-borne infection, and can happen when someone consumes contaminated food, unwashed fruit or vegetables.
- It is easily spread by direct or indirect contact with the excrement of the patient.
- One can get the infection if they swim or take a bath in contaminated water.
Not very common
- It is not a very common infection.
- Usually infections like typhoid and cholera are seen because of contaminated foods.
- Perhaps one in 100 cases of diarrhoea would be shigellosis.
- There are four types of Shigella bacteria that affect humans —
- Shigella sonnei
- Shigella flexneri
- Shigella boydii, and
- Shigella dysenteriae.
- The fourth type causes the most severe disease because of the toxin it produces.
Death is unusual
- Infection does not generally kill, unless the patient has a weak immune system or the pathogen is resistant to the antibiotics that are prescribed.
- It is treatable condition; if a patient reaches hospital on time they can effectively be treated using IV antibiotics.
- The problem occurs when the antibiotics do not work because the bacteria are resistant to it.
- Shigella produces a lot of toxins that can affect all other organs.
- So, if the bacteria continue to proliferate in the body even after giving the antibiotics, it will continue to produce toxins, which can then affect the kidney, cause seizures, lead to multi-organ failure, and shock, and even turn fatal.
- This, however, does not happen in most cases.
- The mortality of the infection is less than 1%
- Major symptome are:
- Loose motions accompanied with high fever, blood in the stool, or constant vomiting such that cannot keep any fluids down.
- A person who has severe diarrhoea must see a doctor within a day.
- Patient with mild diarrhoea may wait for three to four days before going to a doctor.
- It is true of any diarrhoea, whether it is because of Shigella or any other reason.
Precautions to take
- Wash hands thoroughly before and after a meal.
- Wash hands properly after a bowel movement.
- Ensure drinking water is clean and the fruits and vegetables are fresh.
- Products such as milk, chicken, and fish can get infected easily and must be kept at a proper temperature.
- They must also be properly cooked
- Water bourne Diseses
- Different Types of Pathogens
- Red Line Campaign