A bacterial disease characterized by the severe, constant, bloody diarrhea. There are actually different bacteria that can cause dysentery; some common flavors are Amebiasis, Shigellosis, and Giardiasis

There are two main ways to get dysentery. The first way is to go to a foreign country where the local inhabitants are already immune to the local strain, and eat some contaminated food. The other way is to be forced into squalid, unsanitary conditions with a large number of strange people, such as a refugee camp or a public swimming pool. Either way, dysentery is passed when fecal matter from an infected person winds up being ingested by another person.

If you live in modern conditions, then dysentery is no more than a harassment; all you have to do is take some antibiotics and ride out a week of rest and inconvenient bathroom breaks. If you are in a poverty-stricken third world country with no antibiotics, however, dysentery can be a slow, horrible, humiliating way to die. Dysentery fatalities are usually from dehydration, as sufferers expel water faster than they can absorb it.

To prevent dysentery, live clean, make sure your water is boiled, and don't put anything in your mouth when you're around people who suffer from it.

Also known as Montezuma's Revenge; it can be caused by either bacteria or amoeba. The latter is the fiercer and long-lived of the two.

How does the disease spread? Well, it could be in the water, and even if you are carefully not drinking water, you may be carelessly using ice made from infected water. The infection travels via human feces (ugh), and when food is infected it is because an infected person has not washed his/her hands after doing number two.

Certainly none of this information is of any consolation once you are doubled over, running for the bathroom, but it might help impress the need for cleanliness in eating establishments.

Another possible source of amoebic dysentery is keeping tropical fish. Several years ago I was diagnosed with this, and the physician was puzzled how I could contract a disease that's normally associated with the tropics in Maryland... in the winter. What I remember most is losing seven lbs. in five days.

We traced it to the blackworms I was feeding to my fish. These water-dwelling annelids are cultured under not-so-sanitary conditions and could easily have been carrying something nasty. What likely happened was that I failed to wash my hands completely after feeding some to the fish.

I was put on a drug called flagyl (Metronidazole), a harsh antiprotozoal medicine noted for inducing nausea and leaving a constant metallic taste in ones mouth. I also experienced a less common side-effect, depression. If I remember right, it cleared up in about ten days.

Dys"en*ter*y (?), n. [L. dysenteria, Gr. ; ill, bad + , pl. , intestines, fr. within, fr. in, akin to E. in: cf. F. dysenterie. See Dys, and In.] Med.

A disease attended with inflammation and ulceration of the colon and rectum, and characterized by griping pains, constant desire to evacuate the bowels, and the discharge of mucus and blood.

⇒ When acute, dysentery is usually accompanied with high fevers. It occurs epidemically, and is believed to be communicable through the medium of the alvine discharges.


© Webster 1913.

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