Kerala health department on alert as Shigella outbreak claims life of 11-year-old boy

Kozhikode: An 11-year-old boy died after getting infected with the Shigella disease, a highly contagious bacterial infection, in the Kozhikode district of Kerala last week. The state health department has advised people to not panic but remain cautious. 

The health department has said that there are six confirmed cases of the disease so far. A special medical camp held at Kottamparamba in Kozhikode on Saturday has revealed 19 more suspected cases of the disease, in addition to the 25 suspected cases that were reported before. All the confirmed and suspected cases are within the Kozhikode corporation limits. 

The health department has also said that most of the suspected cases are of people who had attended the funeral of the deceased child, who might have taken contaminated food or water from there.  

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The disease Shigellosis, more commonly referred to as Shigella, is an infection of the intestines caused by the Shigella bacteria. It usually spreads by exposure to contaminated food, water, or by hands or sexual contact. Exposure may also occur while using common toilets or spread by flies who have had contact with infected stool or while changing diapers. Children are also more susceptible to exposure to Shigella. 

The most common symptoms of the disease are diarrhoea, blood or mucus in the stool, cramps or stomach pain, vomiting and fever. Symptoms may occur after 12 to 96 hours after exposure and may last up to 7 days. Shigella may still spread after an infected person’s symptoms have passed. There is no vaccine yet for the disease, treatment is usually by antibiotics. 

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Kerala’s health minister K.K. Shailaja has said that all the houses in affected areas will be inspected and samples of water and food will be collected for testing. 

District health authorities have also started super-chlorination of wells in the affected areas and are also inspecting eateries and hotels.

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