Shigella infection is a bacterial infection that occurs in the digestive tract. This infection occurs when bacteria enter the body through contact with feces or through contaminated food or drink.
Shigella infection or shigellosis is caused by a group of Shigella bacteria , such as Shigella dysenteria, Shigella sonnei, and Shigella flexneri. This bacterium is classified as highly infectious. That is, in small quantities, these bacteria can already cause symptoms in humans.
After entering the mouth, the Shigella bacteria will multiply in the small intestine, then spread to the large intestine. Shigella bacteria can release toxins that cause intestinal cell damage and inflammation. This situation causes symptoms of severe cramps and diarrhea , which can even occur 10-30 times a day.
Causes of Shigella Infection
Shigella infection is caused by Shigella bacteria accidentally entering the mouth. This can occur due to the following conditions:
- Touching the mouth without washing hands first after touching a surface infected with Shigella bacteria , for example a child's diaper with shigellosis or an object recently touched by someone with Shigella infection
- Eating food contaminated with Shigella bacteria , for example because food is prepared unhygienic by people with shigellosis or because food is made from materials contaminated with human feces
- Swallowing water that has been contaminated with Shigella bacteria , for example due to swimming in water that has been contaminated by sufferers of Shigella infection
- Having oral sex that causes the mouth to touch the anus or the area around the anus
Risk Factors for Shigella Infection
There are several conditions that can increase a person's risk of getting Shigella infection, namely:
- 2–4 years old
- Living in an environment with poor sanitation or traveling to an area with poor sanitation
- Living in groups, for example in nursing homes, dormitories, prisons or military barracks
- Be active in public places, such as childcare or public swimming pools
- Having sex with other men (for men)
- Having a weak immune system, for example as a result of suffering from HIV/AIDS
Shigella infection symptoms
Symptoms of Shigella infection generally appear 2–3 days after the patient is exposed to Shigella bacteria . In some cases, symptoms may appear a week after contact with the Shigella bacteria .
Symptoms of a Shigella infection usually last 2–7 days. Symptoms that are commonly experienced by sufferers of Shigella infection are dysentery symptoms , namely:
- Abdominal pain or cramps , especially in the middle of the abdomen
- Persistent heartburn, accompanied by a feeling of not being able to hold back a bowel movement
- Water predominant diarrhea
- There may be blood or mucus in the stool
- High fever (can be over 40 o C)
When to see a doctor
Check with your doctor if you have diarrhea for more than 3 days, so you don't become dehydrated . Do not delay seeing a doctor if the diarrhea is severe to more than 10 times per day, there is blood in the stool, or accompanied by fever.
Diagnosis of Shigella infection
To diagnose, the doctor will ask about the symptoms and complaints experienced by the patient. In addition, the doctor can also ask questions related to risk factors that the patient may have, for example the patient's food history for the past 1 week or where the patient lives.
Diarrhea or bloody bowel movements can be caused by many things. To determine whether the diarrhea or bloody bowel movements are caused by a Shigella infection, the doctor will examine the stool . In addition to knowing the cause, stool examination can also help doctors determine the most effective type of antibiotic for the patient.
Shigella infection treatment
Mild Shigella infections may clear up on their own in 5–7 days. However, while experiencing diarrhea, patients are advised to drink lots of water to replace lost body fluids and prevent dehydration. The doctor may also give zinc supplements to speed healing.
It is important to remember, as long as diarrhea occurs, patients should not take drugs to stop diarrhea. This will actually make the bacteria stay in the digestive system longer and worsen the infection.
Giving antibiotics to treat diarrhea is usually done in severe Shigella infections or in patients with weak immune systems, such as the elderly and infants. Types of antibiotics that can be prescribed include:
Shigella infections rarely require hospitalization, unless the patient experiences severe nausea and vomiting to the point where they cannot eat or drink. In these conditions, the doctor will give medicine and replace body fluids through an IV.
Complications of Shigella infection
Shigella infections generally clear up without causing complications. However, in some cases, sufferers can experience the following complications:
- Dehydration, which occurs as a result of persistent diarrhea
- Reactive arthritis , which occurs as a reaction to an infection, is characterized by pain in the knee, hip, and ankle joints
- Rectal prolapse, which is the discharge of part of the rectum (lower part of the large intestine) due to too much straining or severe inflammation of the large intestine
- Seizures , which can be caused by a fever or by the Shigella bacteria themselves
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome
- Toxic megacolon, which can occur when the intestine is paralyzed, making it impossible to have bowel movements and pass gas
- Intestinal perforation or damage to the intestinal wall
- Blood infection (bacteremia), which can occur when Shigella bacteria enter the bloodstream through a damaged intestinal lining
Prevention of Shigella Infection
Some things that can be done to prevent Shigella infection are:
- Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, especially before and after using the toilet, after changing diapers and before eating
- Supervise children while they wash their hands
- Keep children who have diarrhea away from other children
- Dispose of used diapers in a tightly closed bag
- Do not serve food if you have diarrhea
- Avoid swallowing water when swimming in public pools or lakes
- Avoid having sex with people who have diarrhea or have recently recovered from diarrhea
- Not having oral sex or anal sex