Israel Health Ministry officials report 300 cases of children diagnosed with dysentery and according to ministry estimates, another 500 will contract it. The areas with the largest number of cases are Jerusalem and Ashkelon. The increase seems to occur during the summer months, but this year, the increase is more significant than in past summers.
Dysentery is an inflammation of the intestine causing diarrhea with blood. Other symptoms may include fever, abdominal pain, and rectal tenesmus (a feeling of incomplete defecation).
It is caused by a number of types of infection such as bacteria, viruses, parasitic worms, or protozoa, and is a type of gastroenteritis. The mechanism is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon. It more frequently strikes little children up to the age of four, often due to the frequency of the little ones touching their fingers to their mouths.
Dysentery can spread easily in a daycare or kindergarten setting. Two reasons cited for an increase in cases during the summer months are the fact children are in swimming pools together and that food is often not properly refrigerated, providing a breeding ground for the bacteria.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)