Shigellosis

Shigellosis is an infection that affects the intestines. Anyone can get shigellosis, but it often occurs among young children.

You can get shigellosis from contaminated food or water, or from contact with an infected person, such as by sharing eating utensils or changing diapers. Infected people can spread Shigella bacteria through their stool.

Symptoms

Shigellosis can cause mild or severe diarrhea, fever and cramps. There may be traces of blood or mucus in the stool. These symptoms may appear one to seven days after exposure to Shigella bacteria, but they usually start appearing in two to three days.

Some people with shigellosis have no symptoms at all.

Prevention

To prevent the spread of Shigella bacteria, wash your hands with soap and water before eating or preparing food, and after using the bathroom or changing a diaper.

Avoid unprotected sexual practices, such as anal sex or oral-anal contact, with a person who has any diarrheal illness.

People with diarrhea who cannot control their bowel movements, including infants and young children, should stay home until their diarrhea has stopped. Food handlers, children in day care, and health care workers who recover from shigellosis must get approval from the Health Department to return to work or day care.

Shigellosis is more common in some other countries. When traveling to countries where shigellosis is more common, always:

  • Drink bottled water, or boil water for drinking.
  • Eat food that is thoroughly cooked.
  • Avoid raw fruits or vegetables that you did not wash or peel yourself.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for shigellosis and most people get better on their own. In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe antibiotics.

People sick with shigellosis should drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. If an infected person gets dry skin, dry mouth, or dry eyes, contact a doctor or hospital immediately.