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People who died from Dysentery

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Please add the profiles of those who have died from Dysentery.

Please be aware that there is also a project for Diarrhea.

  • Dysentery is a different than Diarrhea which is the condition of having three or more loose or liquid stools/day.

Dysentery is an intestinal inflammation, especially in the colon, that can lead to severe diarrhea with mucus or blood in the feces.

It is caused by a number of types of infection such as bacteria, viruses, parasitic worms, or protozoa. It is a type of gastroenteritis. The mechanism is an inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon.

Patients typically experience mild to severe abdominal pain or stomach cramps. In some cases, untreated dysentery can be life-threatening, especially if the infected person cannot replace lost fluids fast enough.

Like cholera, dysentery is spread by fecal contamination of food and water, usually in impoverished areas where overcrowding and poor sanitation facilitate transmission. Epidemics, a major problem among refugee populations, are common in these areas. When people in industrialized nations have dysentery, signs and symptoms tend to be mild. Many won't even see their doctor, and the problem resolves in a few days. Even so, if a doctor in Western Europe, North America and many other countries comes across a case of dysentery, local authorities need to be told - it is a notifiable disease.

The World Health Organization says there are two main types of dysentery:

  • Bacillary dysentery, caused by Shigella, a bacterium. In Western Europe and the USA it is the most common type of dysentery among people who have not recently been to the tropics.
  • Amoebic dysentery (amoebiasis) caused by Entamoeba histolytica, a type of amoeba, and is more common in the tropics. An amoeba is a protozoan (single-celled) organism that constantly changes shape.

The World Health Organization estimates that shigellosis accounts for about 120 million cases of severe dysentery with blood and mucus in stools worldwide. The vast majority of cases occur in developing nations among children aged less than five years. Approximately 1.1 million people are thought to die from Shigella infection globally each year. Sixty percent of these deaths are among very young children.

Difference between Diarrhea & Dysentery:

  • Diarrhea is a condition that involves the frequent passing of loose or watery stools with no blood and mucus; may or may not be accompanied by cramps or pain; fever is less common; affects the small bowel; dehydration major effect; does NOT require antibiotics but does need oral or intravenous fluids to rehydrate.
  • Dysentery is an intestinal inflammation, especially in the colon, that can lead to severe diarrhea with mucus or blood in the feces; usually causes cramps and lower abdominal pain; usually causes a fever; affects the colon; treatment almost always includes antibiotics or other means to eradicate the pathogen; without treatment it can cause a lot of complications.

The seed, leaves, and bark of the kapok tree have been used in traditional medicine by indigenous peoples of the rain-forest regions in the Americas, West-Central Africa, and South East Asia to treat this disease. Bacillus subtilis was marketed throughout America and Europe from 1946 as an immunostimulatory aid in the treatment of gut and urinary tract diseases such as Rotavirus and Shigella, but declined in popularity after the introduction of cheap consumer antibiotics, despite causing less chance of allergic reaction and significantly lower toxicity to normal gut flora.

Notable cases

  1. See also: Famous People Who Died of Dysentery – 45 listed
  • 1216 – John I "Lackland", King of England John Plantagenet, King of England (1166-1216)] died of dysentery at Newark Castle on 18 October 1216.
  • 1422 – King Henry V Lancaster, King of England (1387-1422) died suddenly from dysentery in 1422. He was thirty-five years old.
  • 1596 – Sir Francis Drake, Vice Admiral, (1540-1596) died of dysentery on 27 January 1596 while attacking San Juan, Puerto Rico. He was buried at sea in a lead coffin, near Portobelo.
  • 1605 – Akbar the Great, ruler of the Mughal Empire of South Asia, died of dysentery. On 3 October 1605, he fell ill with an attack of dysentery, from which he never recovered. He is believed to have died on or about 27 October 1605, after which his body was buried at a mausoleum in Agra, present-day India.
  • 1675 – Jacques Marquette died of dysentery on his way north from what is today Chicago, traveling to the mission where he intended to spend the rest of his life.
  • 1676 – Nathaniel Bacon died of dysentery after taking control of Virginia following Bacon's Rebellion. He is believed to have died in October, 1676, allowing Virginia's ruling elite to regain control.
  • In the 1700s-1800s, dysentery was a disease causing many deaths. In fact, in some areas in Sweden 90 percent of all deaths were due to dysentery during the worst outbreaks. The pattern of transmission for the three most severe outbreaks in 1773, 1808 and 1857 shows that although the disease spread across almost the entire county, there were some clusters with extremely high mortality. However, the hardest hit parts of the county varied.
  • 19th century – As late as the nineteenth century, the 'bloody flux,' it is estimated, killed more soldiers and sailors than did combat. Typhus and dysentery decimated Napoleon's Grande Armée in Russia. More than 80,000 Union soldiers died of dysentery during the American Civil War.
  • 1896 – Phan Đình Phùng, a Vietnamese revolutionary who led rebel armies against French colonial forces in Vietnam, died of dysentery as the French surrounded his forces on January 21, 1896.
  • During the Mexican War (1846-48), a staggering 88% of deaths were due to infectious disease, most of those overwhelmingly dysentery. For every man killed in battle, seven died of disease.
  • Pioneers traveling the Oregon Trail wouldn’t have faired much better than soldiers fighting in war. Dysentery would have been one of the leading causes of death amongst these pioneers, although it is difficult to determine just how many died from it as medical records were typically not kept.
  • 1930 – The French explorer and writer, Michel Vieuchange, died of dysentery in Agadir on 30 November 1930, on his return from the "forbidden city" of Smara. He was nursed by his brother, Doctor Jean Vieuchange, who was unable to save him. The notebooks and photographs, edited by Jean Vieuchange, went on to become bestsellers.
  • 1942 – The Selarang Barracks Incident in the summer of 1942 during World War II involved the forced crowding of 17,000 Anglo-Australian prisoners-of-war (POWs) by their Japanese captors in the areas around the barracks square for nearly five days with little water and no sanitation after the Selarang Barracks POWs refused to sign a pledge not to escape. The incident ended with the capitulation of the Australian commanders due to the spreading of dysentery among their men.
  • A four-year epidemic in Central America, starting in 1968, resulted in more than 500,000 cases and more than 20,000 deaths.
  • Since 1991, dysentery epidemics have occurred in eight countries in southern Africa (Angola, Burundi, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zaire, and Zambia).
  • Worldwide, approximately 140 million people develop dysentery each year, and about 600,000 die. Most of these deaths occur in developing countries among children under age five.
  • In the United States, only about 25,000 to 30,000 cases occur each year.

Deaths from dysentery during civil war.

  • The disease dysentery was the most common disease during the Civil war.
  • Approximately 57,265 Yankee soldiers died from dysentery and around 130 men from a prison in Georgia died from dysentery also. Casualties
  • Approximately 45,000 people in the Union died from dysentery.
  • 50,000 people in the confederacy had died from the disease.
  • It was very rare for someone to survive dysentery at that time. Cure for Dysentery
  • The treatement and cure for dysentery now is to have rehydration therapy. You could also take antibiotics and amoevidal drugs or an antirheumatic drug ridaura.


Additional Reading:

jump back to Cause of death portal. (Will find under the following headings: Death by natural causes--> Infectious Diseases --> Epidemics)

this project is in HistoryLink