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Bacillary Dysentery

Bacillary Dysentery

21 March 2017

Causative agent

Bacillary dysentery is an intestinal infection caused by a group of Shigella bacteria which can be found in human gut.

Clinical features

The illness is characterised by sudden onset of fever, diarrhoea with abdominal cramps and nausea or vomiting. The stool may contain blood and mucus. Mild and asymptomatic illness can occur. Complications include toxic dilatation of large intestine and acute kidney disease.

Mode of transmission

Bacillary dysentery is transmitted directly by faecal material of a patient or carrier, or indirectly through contaminated food and water. Infection may occur after consuming a small number of the germs. Therefore, chance of spreading among household members, in school or institutions can be very high. It occurs more commonly amongst young children.

Incubation period

Usually 1 - 3 days, but can be up to 7 days


Infected persons in schools or institutions should be isolated. They should observe personal hygiene to avoid infecting other persons. Treatment includes fluid replacement and antibiotics.


  1. Maintain good personal, food and environmental hygiene. Adopt the 5 Keys to Food Safety in handling food, i.e. Choose (Choose safe raw materials); Clean (Keep hands and utensils clean); Separate (Separate raw and cooked food); Cook (Cook thoroughly); and Safe Temperature (Keep food at safe temperature) to prevent foodborne diseases.
  2. Wash hands properly with liquid soap and water before eating or handling food, and after going to toilet or handling faecal matter.
  3. Drink only boiled water from the mains or bottled drinks from reliable sources.
  4. Avoid drinks with ice of unknown origin.
  5. Purchase fresh food from hygienic and reliable sources. Do not patronise illegal hawkers.
  6. Eat only thoroughly cooked food.
  7. Wash and peel fruit by yourself and avoid eating raw vegetables.
  8. Exclude infected persons and asymptomatic carriers from handling food and from providing care to children, elderly and immunocompromised people.
  9. Refrain from work or school, and seek medical advice if suffering from gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhoea.

* Please visit the website of Centre for Food Safety for more information on food safety.