What is Dysentery? What are the types, symptoms and causes of Dysentery? Information on Dysentery.
Dysentery; is an infectious disease characterized by frequent loose stools, intestinal bleeding, and, in severe cases, intestinal ulceration. There are two major types of dysentery, caused by two different types of organisms— bacteria and amebas. The bacterial, or bacillary, form is caused almost entirely by bacteria of the genus Shigella and is sometimes known as “shigellosis.” The amebic form, known as “amebic dysentery” or “amebiasis,” is caused by the ameba Endamoeba histolytica.
Both the bacterial and amebic forms of dysentery are usually spread by food or water that is contaminated with the fecal matter of infected individuals. Both disorders may occur in epidemic form when individuals are crowded into small areas where there is poor sanitation, and outbreaks of dysentery are frequent in unsanitary prisoner-of-war camps, refugee camps, asylums, and military barracks. A tropical climate favors the spread of the disease primarily because of the abundance of insects that act as carriers of the disease-causing organisms and thus spread the infection.
Bacillary dysentery has been known to man since ancient times, but its cause was unknown until 1898, when the Japanese physician Kiyoshi Shiga discovered the primary causative organism during an outbreak of the disease in that country. The organism was later named Shigella shigae. During World War I workers in the United States and Canada identified related forms-S. flexneri, S. boydii, and S. sonnei.
The incubation period for bacterial dysentery ranges from one to six days. The first symptom is the copious production of watery, sometimes blood-tinged stools. Other early symptoms include fever, cramps, and dehydration. In advanced stages of the disease, the stools are bloody and the bowel wall becomes ulcerated. If the disease is not treated, various complications may develop, including meningeal irritation, conjunctivitis, and arthritis.
Bacterial dysentery is usually treated with tetracycline, chlortetracycline (Aureomycin), oxytetracycline (Terramycin), and similar antibiotics. If the patient is severely dehydrated, fluids are administered to reestablish the body’s fluid balance. In rare cases blood transfusions may be necessary to restore lost blood.
This form of dysentery is harder to treat than the bacterial form because the causative organism may occur in two different forms: a motile form and a cyst, or resting, form. The motile form produces acute amebic dysentery, with watery, blood-tinged stools, abdominal cramps, fever, and weakness. The cyst form produces chronic amebic dysentery, with intermitent diarrhea and some abdominal discomfort. Chronic amebic dysentery is more common than the acute form, and sometimes the symptoms are so mild that the person is not aware that he has the disease.
In treating both chronic and acute amebic dysentery, the drug emetine is injected, and either penicillin or succinylsulfathiazole (Sulfasuxidine) is given orally. In addition, the drug diiodohydroxyquin (Diodoquin) is administered orally for about three weeks, and carbarsone or fumagillin may then be given for the next 10 days. Although a complete cure can usually be achieved, relapses may occur, and therapy must be started again.
***This article is for informational purposes only. It is not a doctor warning or recommendation.