Shigella: Everything you need to know about the contagious bug sweeping the UK

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  • Shigella is a vomiting and diarrhoea bug that’s currently sweeping the UK and making children and adults ill – here’s what you need to know.

    Described as the ‘winter vomiting bug’, shigella or shigellosis is a highly infectious vomiting and diarrhoea bug that is reportedly leaving families bed-ridden up and down the country.

    The condition is more common in children and young people, and it’s usually passed around in schools and workplaces. While it’s described as winter bug, early Autumn it’s actually when the virus is most likely to hit.

    But how can you spot the condition, treat it and avoid it? Here’s what you need to know…

    What are the symptoms of shigella?

    When a child or an adult is infected with the shigella bacteria, they usually experience diarrhoea and vomiting. Other symptoms might include painful stomach cramps and a fever of 38C (100.4F) or above.

    How can I treat shigella?

    According to the NHS, Shigella usually clears up on its own after three to seven days, and treatment usually isn’t needed.

    Doctors recommend you drink plenty of fluids as well as oral rehydration solutions (ORS) to make sure you avoid getting dehydrated.

    Over-the-counter painkillers, such as paracetamol, could help relieve bad pains or high fevers, but antidiarrhoeal medications, such as loperamide, are best avoided as they could make things worse.

    While you’re suffering from shigellosis, it’s recommended you stay at home until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea to avoid contaminating others.

    Thoroughly washing your hands throughout the day can help stop the virus from spreading

    How can I avoid getting shigella?

    As the bug is sweeping the nation, there are precautions you can take to avoid getting ill. Poor hygiene is one of the main causes for the virus being passed around, so making sure you keeps your hands clean is key to avoid contracting the virus.

    The NHS recommends:

    • wash your hands with soap and warm water regularly throughout the day and especially after using the toilet
    • wash your hands before handling food
    • avoid sharing towels
    • wash the laundry of an infected person on the hottest setting possible

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