Explained: What is Shigella, the bacteria that killed a girl in Kerala after eating shawarma?

The presence of bacteria was confirmed in the blood and stool of people being treated after eating chicken shawarma from an eatery in Cheruvathur, Kasaragod last week. The police have arrested the owner and staff of the restaurant.

While food poisoning is quite common and can occur in a number of conditions, how common is Shigella infection, what are its symptoms, and when should you contact a doctor?

First of all, what is Shigella?

Shigella is a bacterium that belongs to the Enterobacter family – a group of bacteria that live in the gut, which do not cause disease in all humans. It mainly affects the intestine and results in diarrhea, sometimes bloody, abdominal pain and fever.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that infections spread easily because it takes “a small number of bacteria to make someone sick”. It is a food and water infection, and can occur when someone consumes contaminated food – such as in the case of Kerala – unwashed fruits or vegetables.

The disease is easily transmitted through direct or indirect contact with the patient’s excreta. You can get an infection if you swim or bathe in contaminated water.

How widespread is Shigella infection?

“Shigellosis does happen, but it is not a very common infection. We usually see infections like typhoid and cholera due to contaminated food items. Perhaps one in 100 cases of diarrhea in our hospital will be shigellosis,” says Indraprastha Apollo Hospital, New Delhi Dr Suranjit Chatterjee, Senior Consultant, Internal Medicine in

Shigella outbreaks are more common during pregnancy and in children under the age of five and in children with weakened immune systems.

There are four types of Shigella bacteria that affect humans – Shigella sonei, Shigella flexneri, Shigella boydii and Shigella dysentery. The fourth type causes the most severe disease because it produces toxins.

But is it common for people to die of infection?

It’s not. Doctors say the infection usually doesn’t die unless the patient’s immune system is weakened or the pathogen is resistant to prescribed antibiotics. “It is a very treatable condition; If a patient reaches the hospital on time then he can be effectively treated with IV antibiotics,” Dr Chatterjee said.

He said doctors usually send samples from patients with severe diarrhea for culture to see which pathogens are causing symptoms, to decide which antibiotics might work best, he said. “In the meantime, doctors prescribe antibiotics for the most common infections that cause diarrhea, and they will usually work as well for Shigella,” Dr Chatterjee said.

However, the problem occurs when antibiotics don’t work because bacteria are resistant to it.

“The problem with Shigella is that it produces a lot of toxins that can affect all other organs. So, if the bacteria continues to grow in the body even after antibiotics are given, it will continue to produce toxins, which can affect the kidneys. can affect the brain, cause seizures, cause multi-organ failure and shock, and can even be fatal. Associate Professor of Infectious Disease Research Center at Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore Dr Amit Singh said.

However, this is not the case in most cases, Dr. Singh said. “The mortality rate of the infection is less than 1%,” he said.

So if you have stomach upset or an upset stomach, at what point should you start worrying?

Dr Chatterjee said that there is no need to go to the doctor or the hospital every time diarrhea occurs. However, if you have a high fever with diarrhea, blood in the stool, or persistent vomiting such as you can’t keep any fluids down, you should get yourself to a doctor.

A person who has severe diarrhea — meaning 20 or more bowel movements a day — within one day should see a doctor; A patient with mild diarrhea may wait three to four days before going to the doctor.

“This”, Dr Chatterjee said, “is true for any diarrhoea, whether it is due to Shigella or some other reason”. He said it is possible that the Kerala student who died after consuming shawarma did not get timely treatment.

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What precautions should you take?

The measures to prevent Shigella infection are the same as with any other food and water infection. Wash your hands thoroughly before and after eating. Wash your hands thoroughly after having a bowel movement. Make sure the water you are drinking is clean and the fruits and vegetables are fresh.

“Products like milk, chicken and fish can get infected easily and should be kept at proper temperature. They should also be cooked properly,” said Dr Singh.

‘या लेखात समाविष्ट असलेल्या कोणत्याही माहिती/सामग्री/गणनाची अचूकता किंवा विश्वसनीयता हमी नाही. ही माहिती विविध माध्यमे / ज्योतिषी / पंचांग / प्रवचन / विश्वास / धर्मग्रंथांमधून गोळा करून तुमच्यासाठी आणली गेली आहे. आमचा हेतू फक्त माहिती पोहोचवणे आहे, त्याच्या वापरकर्त्यांनी ती फक्त माहिती म्हणून घ्यावी. याव्यतिरिक्त, त्याचा कोणताही वापर वापरकर्त्याची स्वतःची जबाबदारी असेल. ‘

‘The accuracy or reliability of any information/material/calculation contained in this article is not guaranteed. This information has been brought to you by collecting from various mediums / astrologers / almanacs / discourses / beliefs / scriptures. Our purpose is only to deliver information, its users should take it as mere information. In addition, any use thereof shall be the responsibility of the user himself.’


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