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What is Shigellosis?

Shigellosis is an infection of the intestines caused by the bacteria Shigella.

Symptoms of Shigella infection

  • Diarrhea (may have blood)
  • Stomach cramps
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting

Symptoms may begin one to seven days after exposure and can last from four to seven days.

Who can get Shigella infection?

Anyone can get Shigella infection. The symptoms can be worse in very young children, the elderly and in people who are weak because of chronic disease.

Treatment for Shigella infection

Talk with your health care provider regarding appropriate treatment for Shigella infection. Antibiotics will shorten the period of infection but most people recover without antibiotics. When diarrhea is watery, your health care provider may recommend plenty of fluids, such as pedialyte for children or diluted sports drink for adults and antibiotics. If symptoms do not go away after treatment, contact your health care provider again. Health care workers, child care workers, food handlers should not work when diarrhea is present. Please call Contra Costa Public Health at 925-313-6740 for specific recommendations.

Spread of Shigella infection

Shigella bacteria are spread by direct contact with the stool of an infected person. Eating food touched by an infected person or drinking stool-tainted water can infect you. An infected person can continue to spread the Shigella bacteria until the bacteria are no longer present in the stool. Flies that have been on Shigella tainted stools can also transfer the bacteria to uncovered food items.

How is Shigella infection prevented?

  • Wash hands after using the toilet or changing diapers.
  • Wash hands after touching any materials soiled with stool.
  • Wash hands before preparing meals and before eating.
  • If traveling to a developing country, drink bottled water or bottled beverage.
  • Leftover food should be covered and make sure that no flies land on your food.

Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more information.