Medical experts are encouraging people in Ireland to be vigilant to the symptoms of Shigellosis, a highly contagious infection which is currently sweeping the UK.
Cases of Shigellosis - also referred to as Shigella and bacillary dysentery - have been reported in a number of schools across Britain, and now we are told to be on our guard for cases arising here at home.
The infection can affect people of all ages but is most common among children, as it thrives in childcare and school environments.
While the infection is extremely contagious, it is usually not serious. Symptoms include the following:
- Stomach pain
- Fever (typically 38C or higher)
Shigellosis tends to last anywhere between three days and a week, and with no cure, patients need to let the infection run its course.
Steps can be taken to help the healing process, however. Doctors advise patients to drink plenty of fluids, to ward off dehydration; and to take pain relief medication where necessary.
With serious cases sometimes requiring a course of antibiotics, it’s best to keep your doctor informed of your, or your child’s progress.
Those suffering with a case of Shigellosis are advised to stay at home after diagnosis, until up to 48 hours after the last bout of diarrhoea.
So, how can we protect ourselves against Shigellosis? Well given that the condition spreads through contact, the expert advice is to be extra-careful with your hygiene habits.
The advice from the top is to wash your hands thoroughly after using the bathroom, before preparing food, and at regular intervals throughout the day; disinfect your toilets regularly; avoid sharing towels, and wash the bedding and laundry of an infected patient at the hottest setting.
If you are concerned about Shigellosis or any of the above-mentioned symptoms, always contact your GP for advice.