Children under 4 most likely to catch Shigella

With the kids back in school, some of you may already have been unlucky enough to get the first few glimpses of the dreaded tummy bug virus. Known as the ‘winter’ vomiting bug, the contagious and common infection usually starts appearing in Autumn (September and October) right when the kids are back in school. We don’t know about you, but we’re sensing a mighty strong correlation here.

What exactly is it?

Shigellosis, or the winter vomiting bug as it’s better known is an infectious disease caused by the bacteria group Shigella.

Some of the nasty effects of shigellosis are:
  • Stomach cramps
  • Diaorrhea
  • High temperature
  • Nausea
How long will it last?

Usually, the virus will move quickly through your system and should be out within a week. If it goes on for longer, don’t hesitate to consult with your doctor.

How does it spread so rapidly?

The reason why it spreads so rapidly through schools is simple; the bacteria thrives in places of poor hygiene.

And we don’t mean the buildings themselves, but hands that aren’t washed properly after going to the toilet, door knobs, light switches – you get the picture. Most recently in the UK, it has spread rapidly through family groups.

Make sure your kids know how to wash their hands properly. Read here for some tips, tricks and songs to get them to suds up the right way!

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What to do if you or your kids contract the bug?

Although nasty (really nasty), Shigella is rarely dangerous. Apart from letting it run through your system, there’s not much else to be done. But here are some pointers to help you and your family get through it:

  • Try to keep hydrated throughout your bout of the bug – drink lots of fluids.
  • Rest – there’s nothing for it but to rest up and try to get better. Children who have contracted shigellosis are recommended to stay home at least five days, or until symptoms have not reappeared for two days. Check with your child’s school or creche to find out what their sick policy is.
  • In cases where there is blood in stools, your GP should be contacted and notified to make sure any complications haven’t developed.
Who is most likely to catch it?

Children under the age of four are most likely to catch the winter vomiting bug. In adults, the male-to-female ratio in the UK is as high as 4.7 to 1. This is believed to be due to sexual transmission among men who have sex with men.

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