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shigella species (ssp.)

There are four different Shigella species (ssp.) that can cause shigellosis, a bacterial infection of the intestinal tract. In the US, the most common species is Shigella sonnei; the other species are S. flexneri, S. boydii and S. dysenteriae.

Symptoms of infections with Shigella include mild to severe diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, with blood or mucus often found in the stool. This disease is transmitted through the fecal-oral route, has a low infectious dose, and an incubation period of 12 – 72 hours after exposure.
Shigellosis usually resolves with 5 – 7 days; in persons with severe illness, treatment with antibiotics may shorten the course of the disease. Most cases are seen in the summer and early fall, and usually include young children in day care centers, people in prisons and nursing homes, and travelers on cruise ships or visiting developing countries.

There have been several large restaurant outbreaks in the US, which were caused by inadequate hand washing by food handlers, contaminated food, or both. Many of the foods, which have been implicated in these outbreaks, are those that are not cooked before eating such as raw vegetables and dairy products.

The number of reported Shigella cases in Georgia varies from year to year, but usually ranges from 500 – 2000.

Although about 14,000 cases are reported in the US each year, the actual number
is probably much higher. Shigella was the third most common foodborne illness
reported in the US in 2008.

The following websites have additional information:br />