What's Going Around: shigella

What's Going Around: shigella
Posted at 10:07 AM, May 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-25 10:07:00-04

SOUTHWEST LOUISIANA (KPLC) - A contagious infectious disease that might make you think you have an extreme stomach bug is what's going around this week.

Dr. Anatole Karpovs, pediatrician with The Children's Clinic of Southwest Louisiana, has been treating young patients with shigellosis, caused by a group of bacteria called shigella.

"It causes specifically diarrhea and high fevers," said Dr. Karpovs  "It sometimes causes bloody diarrhea or pus or mucus in the diarrhea."

Dr. Karpovs says most people infected with shigella start experiencing these symptoms within a day or two of exposure to the bacteria.  It spreads easily through fecal-oral routes.

"If a child has diarrhea and that spreads or gets on a surface and somebody touches it unknowingly, then they can spread it to themselves or other people," he said.

Anyone can be infected, but some people might not even know it.

Those most at risk are people with weakened immune systems, the elderly, and the young.

"The most vulnerable are often young kids or children in daycare settings, young kids in school settings," said Dr. Karpovs.  "It's passed very easily through close contact and it only takes a little bit of shigella bacteria to pass an infection."

That is why sanitizing diaper changing areas and common surfaces, along with diligent hand-washing is a must.

Mild cases can clear on their own within a few days, but more severe cases require antibiotics after a culture confirms the type of bacteria wreaking havoc.

"Shigella has been increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatments, so oftentimes we may need to switch antibiotics or do a different type of antibiotic to help clear it if it doesn't clear up on its own," said Dr. Karpovs.

If you notice a high fever or signs of dehydration, you don't need to wait to see a doctor.

Shigella cases can also rise during the summer months if you ingest recreational water contaminated with stool containing the germ.

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