Diseases with the characteristic symptoms of dysentery existed in ancient times in China, Korea, and Japan. Dysentery-like diseases were given many descriptive names, such as red dysentery, bloody dysentery, red-white dysentery, thick-blood dysentery, and so forth. The major symptoms common to the entire group were fever, stomachache, bloody excretions, spasms, and frequent diarrhea. Major epidemics are generally associated with true Shigella dysentery, but both bacillary and amebic dysentery were en demic in Korea. Compared to other epidemic diseases, dysentery was not considered very grave, and therefore, it was often omitted from official chronologies of epidemics.

The Hyangyak chipsong pang divided all diarrheas into 23 different forms, including red dysentery. The text also describes various diarrheas that affect children and lists 10 different forms based on the symptoms that predominated under different conditions. Medical books written during the middle and late years of the Yi Dynasty also describe dysentery symptoms.

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