Dysentery is an infection of the intestines caused by either a group of bacteria called shigella (this type of dysentery is called shigellosis) or by protozoan (single-celled) parasites called Entamoeba (this is called amebic dysentery).

Shigellosis: includes sudden, watery diarrhea. Sometimes bacterial contamination of the blood (toxemia) can also occur. Severe cases of shigellosis may lead to bacteremic shock or cardiovascular collapse.

Amebic dysentery: the development of diarrhea is more gradual, and diarrhea can be mixed with blood, pus, and mucus. Another symptom is straining bowel movements that produce only scarce amounts of blood-stained, watery mucus. Dehydration may occur and fluids must be replenished in the body. Possible complications of amebic dysentery include amebic cysts in liver, brain, and other important organs.

The two most common causes of dysentery are infection with a bacillus of the Shigella group, and infestation by an ameba, Entamoeba histolytica. Both Shigellosis and Amebic dysentery are spread by fecal contamination of food and water and are most common where sanitation is poor. The risk of Amebic dysentery is greater in regions where human excrement is used as fertilizer. Most common in the tropics, but may occur in any climate.

Caution: If you suffer from either shigella or amebic dysentery, seek prompt medical attention. Antibiotics may also be necessary.


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