An infectious disease caused by the the bacterial group Shigella. Shigellosis is characterized by fever, stomach cramps, and (sometimes bloody)diarrhea about two days after infection. Unless you're very young or very old, the disease usually resolves itself after about 5 to 7 days.

Shigella infections occur when you eat infected food, drink or swim in infected water, or put your hand in your mouth after touching something that was infected. In most countries, Shigellosis is due to a relatively harmless strain, but Shigella dysenteriae type 1 has been known to cause deadly epidemics in developing countries.

Shigella is usually successfully treated with antibiotics, but some strains have become resistant to some of the drugs. Because greater application of antibiotics means that the bug will become more resistant in the future, treatment is usually selectively given in infected communities, with only advanced cases being treated.

People who get Shigella usually recover completely, but a small percentage of those infected with Shigella flexneri may develop Reiter's Syndrome later in life, which is characterized by painful urination, arthritis, and irritation of the eyes. Whether or not a victim develops Reiter's is genetic.

To prevent Shigellosis, wash your food, boil your water, and always wash your hands before eating, especially if you live around young children in diapers.

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