Shigella and Shigellosis: Risks from Contaminated Environments and Food Products





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Published on Mar 7, 2013

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria known as Shigella. Most people who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they have been exposed. Each year, approximately 14,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States, but because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be twenty times greater.

Shigella bacteria can pass from one infected person to the next. Shigella are present in the diarrheal stools of infected persons while they are sick and for up to a week or two afterwards. Most Shigella infections are the result of the organism passing from stools or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person. It is particularly likely to occur among toddlers who are not fully toilet-trained. Family members and playmates of such children are at high risk of becoming infected. Basic hygiene, hand washing and surface disinfection are crucial to prevent the spread of the organism.


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