What is bacillary dysentery?

Bacillary dysentery, also called shigellosis, is an acute infectious disease of the gut caused by a group of Shigella bacteria which can be found in human intestine.

What are the symptoms?

Infected persons may have symptoms including loose to watery stool diarrhoea, fever, abdominal pain and nausea or vomiting usually starting from 1 to 3 days after they are exposed to the bacterium. The stool may contain blood and mucus. These symptoms may persist for 3 to 14 days.

How is the disease transmitted?

The infection is spread by direct or indirect faecal-oral transmission from persons having the disease or from asymptomatic carriers. They may spread the infection to others directly by faecal material or indirectly by contaminating food. A small number of Shigella bacteria may cause infection.

How to prevent from contracting the disease through food?

  1. Purchase food from hygienic and reputable sources. Do not patronise illegal hawkers.
  2. Wash hands properly with soap and water before eating or handling food, and after using the toilet.
  3. Cook food thoroughly before consumption.
  4. Avoid cross-contamination by preparing and storing cooked and raw food separately, using separate utensils for handling raw and cooked food and placing cooked food in the upper compartment of a refrigerator.
  5. Keep cooked food at 4oC or below or at 60oC or above if they are not consumed at once.
  6. Discard leftovers or otherwise store them properly in the refrigerator. Reheat leftovers thoroughly before consumption.
  7. Restrict anybody, who is suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting, from handling any food so as to avoid contamination.