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Our lawyers represent people like you who ate food contaminated with Shigella bacteria and then got sick. Some of our clients have developed serious complications, like hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a disease that causes kidney failure.
What is Shigella Bacteria?
Shigella is the name of a family of bacteria found in the feces of humans and other primates such as monkeys and chimpanzees. It is usually not found in other animals, but it is often found in water that has been contaminated with human feces. Shigella bacteria are named after a Japanese scientist named Shega who first discovered the organisms.
If you or someone in your family gets a Shigella bacteria infection, you may develop an illness called shigellosis. Shigellosis, or as it is sometimes called, bacillary dysentery, is characterized by gastrointestinal symptoms, including diarrhea. In most cases the illness runs its course in about a week. However, in many cases it may take several months before bowel movements return to normal. More rarely, shigellosis develops into more severe conditions, including Reiter’s syndrome, reactive arthritis, and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS).
How is Shigellosis Spread?
Most cases of shigellosis are passed from person to person via the oral-fecal route, meaning that someone, via food contamination or unsanitary hygiene, ingests some of the feces of someone with the infection. Shigella is present in the stool of an infected person and it continues to be present in the person’s stool for about two weeks after they are no longer sick. Toddlers who are infected often pass the germ on to others. Vegetables can become contaminated with Shigella if the field in which they grow contains sewer water.
You or your family could also become infected by swimming in, or drinking, water that is contaminated. Water is sometimes contaminated if someone with shigellosis swims in it or if sewer water has run into it.
Of the known types of Shigella bacteria, Shigella sonnei, also known as “Group D” Shigella, causes more than two-thirds of the shigellosis cases in the U.S. Shigella flexneri, or “group B” Shigella, accounts for most other cases. Shigelladysenteriae has been known to cause deadly epidemics in the developing world, but it and other types of Shigella are rare in the U.S.