WSFA/NBC - Doctors are warning the public about a contagious, infectious disease that could make you think you just have an extreme stomach bug.
Shigella is a group of bacteria that causes shigellosis which is an infectious disease connected to severe gastrointestinal sickness. One doctor in Louisiana has been treating young patients who have contracted the disease.
"It causes diarrhea and high fevers. It sometimes causes bloody diarrhea or pus or mucus in diarrhea," Pediatrician Dr. Anatole Karpovs of the Children's Clinic of Southwest Louisiana said.
Anyone can be infected and some people might not even know it, Karpovs says. It's passed very easily through close contact and it only takes a few Shigella bacteria to pass an infection.
Karpovs says most people infected with Shigella start experiencing symptoms within a day or two of exposure to the bacteria because the virus spreads easily through fecal-oral routes.
"If a child has diarrhea and that spreads or gets on a surface and somebody touches it unknowingly, then they can spread it to themselves or other people," said Karpovs.
That's why experts say sanitizing changing areas and common surfaces, along with diligent hand washing is a must.
Those most at risk are the immune-compromised, elderly, and the young, according to Karpovs. Doctors say the most vulnerable are often young kids or children in daycare settings and young kids in school settings.
Mild cases can clear on their own within a few days, but more severe cases require antibiotics after a culture confirms the type of bacteria wrecking havoc.
Experts say Shigella has been increasingly resistant to antibiotic treatments, so oftentimes we may need to switch antibiotics or do a different type of antibiotic to help clear it if it doesn't clear up on its own."
Shigella cases can also rise during the summer months if you ingest recreational water contaminated with stool containing the germ. If you notice a high fever or signs of dehydration, you don't need to wait to see a doctor.