Health officials are reporting an increase in the number of dysentery cases in the Jerusalem and Ashkelon areas, according to Israeli media late last week.
The Israel Health Ministry says 300 cases of children have been diagnosed with bacillary dysentery and estimate hundreds more will contract the gastrointestinal infection.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says bacillary dysentery, or shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Most who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria. The diarrhea is often bloody. Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days. A severe infection with high fever may be associated with seizures in children less than 2 years old. Some persons who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others.
Transmission occurs via the fecal-oral route, through direct person-to-person contact, or indirectly through contaminated food, water, or fomites and can be transmitted with as few as 10 organisms can cause infection.
Worldwide, Shigella is estimated to cause 80–165 million cases of disease and 600,000 deaths annually.