New Zealand Medical Services in Middle East and Italy
Dysentery constituted much the commonest disease in the early months and was associated at times with serious illness. There were three deaths reported, one being definitely due to Shiga infection. Altogether, 500 cases were admitted to hospital from February to November 1940, and the types of infection were: Flexner, 22·4 per cent; Shiga 4·5 per cent; Schmitz 1·4 per cent; Sonne 0·4 per cent; amoebic 2·0 per cent; bacillary exudate 38·4 per cent; and indefinite exudate 30·9 per cent. There was no difference in symptoms between those showing definite bacteriological evidence of infection and those with no such evidence. It was thought that all the cases were due page 81 to dysenteric infection, which was also suspected to cause the great majority of the mild cases of diarrhoea and gastro-enteritis occurring in the camps and clearing up without hospital treatment. Fresh troops almost invariably were affected and later developed some immunity. The highest incidence of dysentery was in April 1940 when 14 per 1000 were admitted to hospital. Salines were given as treatment for bacillary dysentery at this period, sulphaguanidine not being available till June 1941. For amoebic dysentery emetine was still the only drug with any marked specific action.