There is a drug resistant bacteria that the CDC is warning about - a stomach bug with the name of Shigella. Shigella infections, which are known as shigellosis, cause diarrhea that can be prolonged and bloody, along with fever and abdominal cramps.
Shigella is a genus of gram-negative, non-spore-forming, rod-shaped bacteria that causes shigellosis, a severe diarrheal disease in humans. Shigella is a highly contagious pathogen that primarily affects the lower part of the intestinal tract.
It is responsible for approximately 165 million cases of diarrhea worldwide and is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality, particularly in developing countries.
Let's explore what Shigella is, how it affects the body, and how it affects those with compromised immune systems.
What is Shigella?
Shigella is a group of four species of bacteria: S. dysenteriae, S. flexneri, S. boydii, and S. sonnei. These bacteria are commonly found in human feces and can be easily transmitted from person to person, especially in areas with poor sanitation. Shigella is highly infectious, with as few as ten bacteria required to cause an infection.
The bacteria can survive in food, water, and on surfaces for several days, making it easy to spread the disease.
How does Shigella affect the body?
Shigella primarily affects the lower part of the intestinal tract, causing inflammation and damage to the lining of the colon. The bacteria produce a toxin that damages the cells in the lining of the colon, leading to severe diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever. The diarrhea is often bloody, and dehydration is a common complication of the disease.
In healthy individuals, symptoms of shigellosis typically last for five to seven days and are self-limiting. However, in some cases, the disease can be severe, leading to hospitalization or even death. Infection with Shigella can also cause long-term complications, including reactive arthritis, hemolytic uremic syndrome, and seizures.
Individuals with compromised immune systems are at increased risk of developing severe complications from shigellosis. This includes individuals with HIV/AIDS, cancer, organ transplants, and autoimmune disorders. In these individuals, the infection can spread beyond the intestinal tract, leading to bacteremia and sepsis.
Bacteremia is a severe condition that occurs when bacteria enter the bloodstream, leading to the spread of the infection throughout the body. Sepsis is a life-threatening condition that occurs when the body's response to infection causes widespread inflammation and organ damage. Individuals with compromised immune systems are more susceptible to sepsis, which can lead to multiple organ failure and death.
In addition to the risk of severe complications, individuals with compromised immune systems may also have a longer duration of symptoms and a higher risk of relapse. This is because their immune systems are less able to fight off the infection, allowing the bacteria to persist in the body for longer periods.
Prevention and Treatment
Preventing shigellosis involves proper hygiene practices, including washing hands regularly, avoiding food and water that may be contaminated with fecal matter, and avoiding close contact with individuals who are infected with the bacteria. Vaccines against Shigella are currently in development, but none are currently available for widespread use.
The treatment of shigellosis involves supportive care to manage symptoms, such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalances. Antibiotics may also be used to shorten the duration of symptoms and reduce the risk of complications. However, the overuse of antibiotics can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant strains of Shigella, making treatment more challenging.
Shigella is a highly contagious bacterial infection that primarily affects the lower part of the intestinal tract. In healthy individuals, the disease is self-limiting and typically lasts for five to seven days. However, in those with compromised immune systems, the infection can lead to severe complications.
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