Man2Man, part of the national HIV Prevention & Sexual Health Awareness programme targeting gbMSM (gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men) in Ireland, has launched a campaign to raise awareness about Shigella ahead of Pride season.
Speaking on the launch of the campaign, Professor Fiona Lyons, HSE Clinical Lead for Sexual Health, said, “As we approach the Pride season, we want to raise awareness about Shigella so that people have the information they need to reduce the risk of getting Shigella. We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable Pride”.
The campaign has been developed in response to the HPSC (Health Protection Surveillance Centre) report that the number of Shigellosis cases is increasing.
Primarily spread through contact with infected faeces, Shigella is a bacterial infection which can lead to severe stomach upset. Exposure to the infection can occur through various means, including contaminated food or sexual activity.
According to current figures, the rate of Shigella notifications in Ireland is higher than in previous years, with some cases linked to clusters. Reports also suggest that some new cases are showing resistance to certain antibiotics.
Adult gbMSM are one of the largest demographics presenting with the infection, with the highest number of cases being notified in February this year.
Symptoms usually develop around one to three days after (sexual) contact and include:
- frequent and explosive diarrhoea lasting more than 48 hours
- stomach cramps
- feeling feverish with flu-like symptoms
- some people report vomiting
- some people may have blood mixed with the diarrhoea
Shigella cases are on the rise. A nasty stomach bug that can cause painful cramps and diarrhoea.
Check out Man2Man’s awareness & prevention campaign: https://t.co/LgOhfgV437.
— Adam Shanley (@Adlers1) June 7, 2023
As well as raising awareness of the symptoms of Shigella, the Man2Man campaign also aims to provide advice on how individuals can protect themselves.
Professor Lyons advises, “If you suspect you have Shigella, it is important to contact your healthcare provider for testing and care. Laboratory diagnosis involves sending a stool sample for analysis.
“If Shigella is acquired through sexual contact, it is recommended to undergo testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). For information on HIV and STI testing, visit www.sexualwellbeing.ie.”
If you think you have Shigella, contact your healthcare provider to arrange testing and care. In addition:
- Avoid engaging in sexual activity while you have symptoms and for at least a week after your symptoms have settled.
- Avoid sharing towels. The use of health spas, Jacuzzis, hot tubs, or swimming pools should be temporarily suspended.
- Individuals working in the food industry, healthcare, or childcare settings should stay away from work while experiencing symptoms. Public health personnel will provide guidance on when it is safe to return to work.
To minimise the risk of Shigella during sexual activity, the HSE recommends practising the following hygiene measures:
- Wash hands, genital and anal areas before and after sex.
- Use latex gloves for fingering or fisting and dental dams during oral-anal sex.
- Avoid sharing sex toys and ensure proper cleaning and disinfection after each use and between partners.
- Change condoms between anal and oral sex.
In most cases, Shigella-related diarrhoea resolves within 5 to 7 days with proper fluid intake and rest. However, if you have a weakened immune system, you may be at higher risk of more severe illness. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat the infection and reduce transmission to others.
In similar news, in the UK, new figures released yesterday, June 6, report that gbMSM are experiencing a record-breaking rise in cases of gonorrhoea, syphilis and other STIs, suggesting that regular testing and safe sex practices are more important than ever ahead of Pride season.
For more information, visit www.man2man.ie/shigella.
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