In both cases the patient suffers from frequent bowel movement accompanied by blood, pus and mucus. Such condition seems similar to diarrhea where there is heavy loss of body fluid.
Dysentery is caused by infection and the cause of infection can vary from region to region. Sometimes intolerance of certain food items may also lead to conditions similar to dysentery. However, the common types of dysentery are Amoebic dysentery which is also known as intestinal amebiasis and bacillary dysentery.
Amoebic dysentery or amebiasis is the disease caused by Entamoeba histolytica, a one-celled parasite. This disease is widespread in the developing countries of the world, mainly due to the poor sanitary conditions there. However, it is not that the people in the developed countries are immune to such infection. It can come from those traveling to these countries, immigrants from these countries and for those living in places having poor sanitary conditions. People having anal sex can also get infected with the disease.
The contamination can occur through food, water or putting anything in mouth which has been infected with the E. histolyca. Without proper cleaning of hands after visiting a place, or touching a person infected with the disease one can carry the cysts containing the E. hystolyca. These cysts can get into the intestines and infect the person. This is also the way in which the disease gets transmitted. The manifestation of the disease is generally there within 1 to 4 weeks depending on the conditions favoring the outburst.
Normally the symptoms of amebiasis include loose bowels, pain and cramps of the stomach in the early stages and in the severe cases can also cause passing of bloody stool and fever. The disease rarely spreads to parts other than the intestine. The diagnosis is difficult because often the symptoms are common to many other parasitic infestations. Even the stool samples do not often show traces of E. histolyca. So, often several samples are tested to make sure of the parasite.
This type of dysentery is caused by the Shigella bacteria. The main three species responsible for the disease are the Shigella dysenteriae, Shigella flexneri and the Shigella sonnei. Another bacteria causing bacillary dysentery is the Salmonella enterica but this is not very common. The contamination is generally made through food and water that get contaminated with feces of infected persons. Generally the spread of the disease is seen in the summer and autumn and places having poor sanitation. There are several cases where people have been seen to chronically suffer from mild infections round the year.
In the chronic cases, the patients generally have a past history of acute attacks or unclean lifestyle. They experience recurrent pain in the abdomen and alternation of diarrhea and constipation. Mucus and blood occasionally are observed in their stool. The acute infections are generally noticed in the seasons when the infection is widespread and the patient has high chances of taking contaminated food and water. Such cases are generally accompanied by fever, severe abdominal pain, diarrhea and major manifestations and stool containing pus and blood.