Kerala's Shawarma Food Poisoning Case: What Is Shigella? What Are the Symptoms?

A 16-year-old girl Devananda fell sick and died, after having a shawarma in Kerala's Kasargod earlier in April.

2 min read
Kerala's Shawarma Food Poisoning Case: What Is Shigella? What Are the Symptoms?

A 16-year-old girl Devananda fell sick and died, after eating shawarma in Kerala's Kasargod earlier in April. On 3 May, the Kerala health department identified shigella bacteria as the cause of the food poisoning that led to her death, and the hospitalisation of 30 others.

Kasaragod district medical officer Dr A V Ramdas said that seven patients were in intensive care units (ICUs) after contracting the infection, but their conditions stabilised later. The Kerala Police has arrested the owner and staff of the eatery.

What is shigella infection? What are the symptoms? When should you consult a doctor? Here's all you need to know.


What is shigella infection?

Shigellosis, or shigella infection, is an intestinal infection caused by a bacteria of the same name.

According to Hilleman Laboratories, the infection is one of the leading causes of death in children under the age of five in low-income countries of Africa and South Asia.

What are the common symptoms?

  • Diarrhea (bloody and painful in severe cases)

  • Stomach pain

  • Fever

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting


How does it spread?

It spreads from contaminated food and water.

How long do the symptoms last?

In most cases, symptoms can been seen within a week.

Is it contagious?

Yes, the infection is contagious. It spreads from person-to-person when the shigella bacteria is swallowed accidentally.

For example, if a person happens to feed a child without washing their hands or does not wash their hands after changing a diaper, it is likely to spread. It can also spread from contaminated food and water.


Is shigella dangerous?

Not really. In most cases, the patient may experience diarrhea for a couple of days before the symptoms subside gradually.

When should one consult a doctor?

If patient suffers from fever and stomach pain, it is advisable to consult a doctor.

How to prevent contracting shigella infection?

According to guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a national public health institute in the United States, you should:

  • Wash your hands regularly, especially if you are caring for a child

  • Wash your hands before preparing/eating food

  • Drink boiled water

  • Avoid swallowing water while swimming

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Edited By :Tejas Harad
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