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Dysentery


Overview :

Dysentery is a common but potentially serious disorder of the digestive tract that occurs throughout the world. It can be caused by a number of infectious agents ranging from viruses and bacteria to protozoa and parasitic worms; it may also result from chemical irritation of the intestines. Dysentery is one of the oldest known gastrointestinal disorders, having been described as early as the Peloponnesian War in the fifth century B.C. Epidemics of dysentery were frequent occurrences aboard sailing vessels as well as in army camps, walled cities, and other places in the ancient world where large groups of human beings lived together in close quarters with poor sanitation. As late as the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, sailors and soldiers were more likely to die from the "bloody flux" than from injuries received in battle. It was not until 1897 that a bacillus (rod-shaped bacterium) was identified as the cause of one major type of dysentery.

Dysentery in the modern world is most likely to affect people in the less developed countries and travelers who visit these areas. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most cases of dysentery in the United States occur in immigrants from the developing countries and in persons who live in inner-city housing with poor sanitation. Other groups of people at increased risk of dysentery are military personnel stationed in developing countries, frequent travelers, children in day care centers, people in nursing homes, and men who have sex with other men.




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