Shigellosis (Shigella)

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Shigellosis is caused by the shigella bacteria. It is highly contagious and can be spread by casual contact due to lack of hand washing (faecal contamination via tiny amounts of poo indirectly transferred to the mouth) and by oral-anal sexual contact (e.g. rimming or anal play).  Shigella causes diarrhoea and abdominal pain (cramps), fever, vomiting.  Symptoms can be severe.  Thoroughly washing hands with warm water and soap, washing raw fruit and vegetables, and avoidance of sexual contact with the anus, will prevent Shigella transmission to the mouth.

Although the body will naturally get rid of Shigella (within 5-7 days), it can still be contagious for a few weeks after the diarrhoea stops (until the bacteria clears up from the bowel). People with HIV may experience more severe or prolonged shigellosis symptoms, which can result in hospitalisation in severe cases.  Although treatment for Shigella is focussed upon symptoms (such as re-hydration from diarrhoea), antibiotic treatment is recommended to reduce the duration of infection and symptoms.  Oral antibiotic resistance can occur, and so sometimes stronger injectable antibiotics may be required with repeat visits to the doctor.

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