Even as the country is yet to recover from the Chinese pandemic coronavirus, a new bacterial infection has emerged in Kerala spreading fear across the state as the infection is believed to be contagious and could be fatal. The infection ‘Shigellosis’, caused by a bacteria – ‘Shigella’, has already claimed the life of 11-year-old youth in Kerala causing panic in the state.
Kerala, which has been one of the worst affected states from the COVID-19, is already struggling to recover from the pandemic even as a large number of fresh cases are being reported on a day-to-day basis. Amidst this, at least six cases of ‘Shigella’ infection and 20 other suspected cases, mostly among children, have been reported in Kerala’s Kozhikode district.
Reportedly, this is not the first time the infection has been reported in Kerala. In 2019, the infection was reported from Koyilandy. Nearly 40 children of the West Lower Primary School, Keezhppayyur, were hospitalised in 2019 after getting infected from the bacteria.
What is Shigellosis?
Shigellosis is a bacterial infection caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. The ‘Shigella’ bacterium, which affects the digestive system, is spread through contaminated water and food or through contact with contaminated faeces. The bacteria release toxins that irritate the intestines. The primary symptom of shigellosis is diarrhoea.
The bacteria affects kids, infants more than older children and adults. Symptoms include diarrhoea, fever, stomach cramps and it can last for seven days. The bacteria spreads not only through surfaces through contact but also from eating food prepared by someone carrying the infection.
Is there a treatment for Shigellosis?
Unlike COVID-19, which is a viral infection, Shigellosis is a bacterial infection and can be treated. The treatment for Shigellosis usually includes injecting antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria from the digestive tract. The presence of the bacteria is generally confirmed through a stool test.
Additionally, this infection can be prevented initially by maintaining proper hygiene. There are also medications for the infection and hospitalisation is a rare occurrence if one is infected by the bacteria.
However, in case of extreme cases, hospitalisation is required. Sometimes, it is advised that combating dehydration is the main goal of treatment for most cases of shigellosis. Drinking plenty of fluids, especially electrolyte solutions, many of which can easily bought over the counter can be useful.