Shigellosis is an infection caused by bacteria called Shigella. Because the bacteria usually enter the body through food, it is also called food poisoning.
The illness can be severe for children and older adults. It can cause dehydration (loss of too much fluid from the body), imbalance of chemicals in the body, and shock.
Shigella bacteria can live in the intestines of humans and primates, including monkeys and chimpanzees. People can carry the bacteria without looking or acting sick. Bowel movements can spread the bacteria to soil or water. Vegetables can be contaminated by contact with this soil or water. Contaminated food usually looks and smells normal.
Your child may get infected if:
Attacks of shigellosis are sudden and severe. The symptoms start about 12 hours to 3 days after your child is exposed to the bacteria.
Symptoms may include:
If the infection spreads to the nervous system it can cause meningitis. Meningitis is an infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of meningitis may include:
Meningitis can be fatal.
Your healthcare provider will ask about your child’s symptoms and medical history and examine your child. A sample of bowel movement may be sent to the lab for testing.
Mild infections may get better without antibiotic medicine, but your child’s provider may prescribe an antibiotic to keep others from getting infected. If your child is generally in good health, he will feel better within a week.
If your child has a severe infection, or it spreads to the brain or kidneys, he will need to stay at the hospital for treatment.
Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions. Make sure that your child takes all medicines exactly as prescribed. If your child stops taking the medicine too soon, the infection may come back. If your child has side effects from the medicine, talk to your provider.
Here are some things you can do to help your child feel better:
Ask your healthcare provider:
Make sure you know when your child should come back for a checkup. Keep all appointments for provider visits or tests.
Shigellosis can be a serious health threat to you and the people around you. It cannot be treated with many of the antibiotics that are usually used to treat infections. Prevention is very important. These steps can help prevent food poisoning: