Dr. M.J. Bazos, MD. Patient Handout

About Your Diagnosis

Shigellosis is an infection of the intestinal tract caused by a bacteria. It can be spread from individual to individual with close contact. It is transmitted through contaminated food or water. Shigellosis commonly affects children and can rapidly spread through day-care centers. There are more than 20,000 cases per year in the United States. Diagnosis is made by obtaining a stool culture.

Living With Your Diagnosis
Signs and symptoms include fever, which can be high in children; abdominal cramps; watery diarrhea; nausea or vomiting; muscle aches and pains; and mucus or blood in the stools.

If possible, infected individuals should use a separate bathroom. If not possible, use gloves and scrub the toilet with a bleach solution after each use. Good hand washing is necessary to avoid the spread of the disease. Make sure children wash their hands with soap and water after using the bathroom and before eating. Fluid intake should be increased. Initially, a liquid diet (jello, ice cream, soups) is appropriate; subsequently, the diet should be increased gradually, avoiding raw fruits and vegetables. Antibiotics may be given, such as ampicillin, ciprofloxacin, or tetracycline. Don’t give antidiarrheal medicines because they can prevent the bacteria from being eliminated and prolong the diarrhea and fever. Bed rest is needed, except for trips to the bathroom, until the fever and diarrhea are gone. Wash soiled bed linens and clothes in soap and the hottest water possible.

The DOs
• Take antibiotics if prescribed until finished.
• Wash hands well after using the bathroom and before eating.
• Encourage fluid intake to prevent dehydration. Use preparations such as Gatorade or Pedialyte.

The DON’Ts
• Don’t use over-the-counter medications to stop the diarrhea. They will prolong the disease. • Don’t give solid foods until the diarrhea slows.
• Don’t eat raw fruits and vegetables until the infection is completely cleared.
• Don’t forget to wash hands frequently.

When to Call Your Doctor
• If abdominal pain becomes severe and the abdomen swells.
• If the temperature is more than 102°F during treatment.
• If there is blood in the stools.
• If signs of dehydration are present, such as weight loss, dry skin, sunken eyes, or a decreased need to urinate.
• If other symptoms develop, such as sore throat, earache, shortness of breath, or swollen joints.

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