Dysentery is a general term for an intestinal infection which causes severe diarrhea and abdominal discomfort. Untreated amoebic dysentery can give rise to liver abscesses; in rare cases the infection may spread to other organs.
Bacillary dysentery is caused by one of four different bacteria belonging to the Shigella family. Amoebic dysentery results from an infection caused by the protozoan, entamoeba hystolytica. Both diseases are commonly found in tropical countries, but this can occur world-wide.
They are transmitted by food or drinking water that has been contaminated by faeces, either directly or by flies and other insects. Epidemics of this frequently occur where there are crowded conditions with poor sanitation, often following major disasters, but sometimes in schools and institutions. Amoebic dysentery does not epidemics, but is quite prevalent in the homosexual community.
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