What is the highly-infectious shigellosis bug which is sweeping our schools?

Shigellosis can lead to bouts of vomiting.
Shigellosis can lead to bouts of vomiting.
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A highly-infectious vomiting bug calling shigellosis is sweeping schools across the UK, with parents being warned to watch out for the symptoms.

Here is everything you need to know about the bug.

What is shigellosis?

Shigellosis is a highly contagious infection caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella, which is spread through contaminated food or water.

Anyone can catch the infection, however it is most common among children and is most easily spread in schools and nurseries.

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms include bouts of watery diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting and a high temperature. Blood or mucus may also be present in their stool.

The infection may appear as much as a week after contact, but symptoms usually begin within three days after coming into contact with the infection.

How to treat shigellosis?

NHS Choices says shigellosis clears up by itself within a week, with no treatment needed.

Make sure you drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, and over-the-counter painkillers such as paracetamol can help relieve pain and a fever.

However, in severe cases it may be necessary to see your GP, who may prescribe a short course of antibiotics, or treatment may be necessary in hospital.

How to reduce your chances of getting shigellosis?

You can reduce your risk of catching it by following this advice:

* Wash your hands with soap and warm water after using the toilet and before handling, eating or cooking food

* Avoid sharing towels

* Wash the laundry of an infected person on the hottest setting possible