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Shigella: What You Need to Know

What is shigella?

Shigella is a bacteria that causes an intestinal infection in a person when ingested. This infection is more commonly known as shigellosis. It is a problem everywhere, especially in developing countries, but is also prevalent in the United States, where there are approximately 500,000 cases each year. Shigellosis usually is present in crowded places like schools, daycare centers, nursing homes, or places with a lack of sanitation.

How do you get shigella?

Shigella can be found in the feces of infected people. A person can get shigellosis by consuming food or drinking water that has been contaminated with the bacteria, or through sexual contact with an infected person. Some dishes carry a higher risk of contamination, such as any raw vegetables or shellfish.

Who is at risk for shigella infection?

  • Many illnesses are contracted in daycare and school settings. Infections spread easily from children to their family members and other people because it is easy for bacteria to be passed on.
  • Some of the most vulnerable to getting a Shigella infection are young children, but in truth, anyone can.
  • Poor sanitation and hygiene systems can increase the risk of travelers getting a Shigella infection, which is made worse by the fact that some strains are resistant to common antibiotics.
  • People suffering from weakened immune systems, such as those affected by HIV or medical treatments like chemotherapy can get a more serious Shigella infection which can spread into the blood and become life-threatening.
  • Shigella infections are also linked to anal sex as the bacteria can pass from stool or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person, including during sexual activity.

Is shigella infection contagious?

Shigella is very contagious. People become infected with shigella by inadvertently consuming small amounts of bacteria from another person's stool.

When do you start showing signs of shigella?

A person's symptoms of Shigella typically begin between 1 to 2 days after contact. In certain cases, a person may show signs as soon as 12 hours. The illness usually goes away within 5-7 days if a patient rests and drinks plenty of fluids.

What are the symptoms of shigella infection?

Symptoms of a shigella infection include the following:
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dysentery (blood, pus and mucus in the stool)
  • Stomach pain and cramps
  • Fever
In some cases, those who are infected with Shigella can remain asymptomatic, but are still highly contagious.

Does shigella cause other problems?

Most of the time, a person can get by with a shigella infection but other times, the infection can cause lingering effects such as:
Seizures.Children often suffer from this complication. Call 911 or proceed to the hospital for immediate medical care.
Dehydration.This happens when your body has a lack of fluids. People experience lightheadedness, dizziness, dry and sunken eyes. In children, dry diapers are usually a telling sign.
Post-infectious arthritis.Shigella bacteria can cause severe joint and eye pain, as well as painful urination.
Hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS).This infection produces a toxin that destroys red blood cells, which are the oxygen-carrying cells of your body.
Bloodstream infection.When the lining of the intestines becomes damaged during the course of the infection, shigella or other germs in your gut could potentially infect your bloodstream. People suffering HIV, cancer or undergoing chemo are especially likely to contract such infections.

How is shigellosis diagnosed?

Because diarrhea can point to a wide range of illnesses, a stool sample may be required in order to full confirm whether you have shigellosis. Other times, your doctor may request for more lab tests to find out which antibiotic would be the most effective as treatment.


How do you treat shigellosis?

Drinking fluids, particularly electrolyte solutions such as sports drinks that can be bought over the counter, is essential for treating shigellosis as the main goal of treatment is to combat dehydration. Doctors also advise against taking anti-motility medications as this will keep the bacteria in your system longer and may make the infection worse. In cases where a doctor sees fit, he may prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria from the digestive tract.

Can shigellosis be prevented?

The following are safe practices that can help you lessen the risk of contracting shigellosis:
When traveling to other countries, especially with poor sanitation, make sure that your food and water is sealed or cooked properly.
  • Wash fruits and vegetables before preparing them and cook them well.
  • Ensure that you wash your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water especially before and after eating, using the bathroom, preparing food and coming into contact with a possible infected person.
  • Avoid consuming water from untreated bodies of water like pools, lakes or ponds.
  • Properly dispose of soiled diapers in a lined garbage can with a lid.
Read more

Recent Shigella Reports

Me and my adult family got sick on 5th May 2022. Severe diarrhoea and stomach cramps and fatigue. Had tests after returning home and tested positive for salmonella and shigella food poisoning. | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Cramps, Fatigue See Less

How long were your symptoms?
Reply 3 months ago
I ended up buying a wrap (they’re made off site) After six days of a blur at home alone my Apple Watch rang. My mom knew I was good and came to get me. As I got to the hospital after six days with no food and... See More very few water bottles (I’m told my house was a toxic mess) I told my mom my hands were shiny and I slipped into a 10 day coma. On my birthday at the end after ten days I woke up to the knowledge I had been in quarantine the entire ten days. The diagnostic testing went on for about six days my mom tells me. I was finally diagnosed with after an additional five more days I was released. I lost 27 pounds in those 21 days. I did of course go back to shopping at Sprouts. I however never bought another wrap. What was interesting and enlightening though was the very old man bagging my food, I asked him please not heavy I just was in the hospital. He said me too. He was in the hospital 3 days but confirmed he was diagnosed with the same thing. He said he had purchased a sandwich from a market (which is where the pre-made food is sent to) so that narrowed down what I ate, where it came from, and that if you’re found before six days pass you probably won’t sleep for 10 days in a coma. This took place a few years back. CDC, LA County Health Department were all in on the search and diagnosis. I retell this experience because food poisoning can lead to sever malnutrition. Don’t be a typical guy as I was and just assume it will get better eventually. Seek help. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Vomiting, Something else See Less

On Feb 25, 2022, Humboldt County Public Health announced an ongoing investigation of local cases of the gastrointestinal illness Shigella bacteria, after three lab-confirmed cases and two more suspected cases infected Eureka residents during 4 weeks ago to that date.

On a March 5, 2022 update, Public... See More health announced 5 confirmed cases and 11 more illnesses being investigated. They have become aware of several confirmed and suspected cases of Shigella gastroenteritis with links to locations in the Eureka 101 corridor along the north and west side of town. Based on their current and ongoing investigations they suspect the spread may be greater than their current understanding, and because of that, they are alerting medical providers in the area to consider testing for and treating Shigella to help both understand the extent of the problem and to help stop the spread of this highly contagious bacterial illness.

In case you experience shigellosis symptoms as diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and stomach cramps, it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve outbreaks early and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance.

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I ordered a bowl with white rice , carnitas and Barbacoa, corn and hot salsa and sour cream and a lemonade. I have been throwing up and I have ran to the toilet at least 20 times for explosive diarrhea. My doc said it seems like norovirus or shigella | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Vomiting See Less

Ended up with Salmonella and Shigella food poisoning return back from Mexico.

Experienced what I thought was indigestion was last 3 days of the trip. Didn’t think much of it. Wasn’t until I returned home that things got worse. I ended up developing a high fever, and... See More was so dehydrated I caved in and went to the ER. They initially wanted to admit me since my heart rate was high and I wasn’t holding anything down, but fortunately I was improving with observation. I thought I was careful with only using bottled water, washing my hands, wearing my mask. Boy was I wrong. | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Fever, Indigestion See Less

Virginia Department of Health announced Saturday, January 22, 2022, that a release of partially treated sewage has closed all shellfish harvesting in Upper Machodoc Creek in King George County. As a result, shellfish, which include bivalve mollusks like oysters and clams, from impacted areas are not safe... See More to eat because of potential microbiological pollution hazards.

According to the news, the temporary emergency closure began Saturday and is slated to continue through Friday, Feb. 11. Officials warned that eating shellfish from the closed areas could cause gastrointestinal illnesses like norovirus, hepatitis A and shigellosis. Also, officials noted crabs and fin fish in Upper Machodoc Creek are still safe to catch.

In case you are experiencing gastrointestinal illnesses symptoms, it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve outbreaks early and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance.

For more details, please check on:

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The County of San Diego is investigating an ongoing outbreak of Shigella. As of December 17, 2021, 46 confirmed cases and 5 probable cases of shigellosis have been reported, these cases are among individuals experiencing homelessness, with the majority at multiple locations in central San Diego and... See More two cases in North County. No source of the outbreak has currently been identified.

Illness dates are between Aug. 16 and Nov. 21, 2021, with the new cases occurring between Nov.15 and Nov. 21, 2021, with symptom onset for the latest case being Nov. 27, 2021.

The County continues to work closely with the City of San Diego, regional homeless service providers and others to identify new cases, prevent future potential exposures and promote good hygienic and sanitation precautions.

In case you experience shigellosis symptoms as diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, and stomach cramps, it is important to report it. It can help to detect & resolve outbreaks early and prevent others from being harmed, and it enables better surveillance.

For more details please check on:

Source: County of San Diego
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I bought two pack of beef ribs I cooked one Wednesday December 9 and I was food poisoning by December 11 with a diarrea chills and fever that last me until I end up in December 21 at the ER in Columbia Presbyterian Hospital at 83 Gold... See More street, Manhattan NY. I am waiting for the results since they told me they will have ready after 4 days! Doctor treat me with Zithromax antibiotics for 3 days possible findings are: Salmonella, E. coli, Shigella. | Symptoms: Nausea, Diarrhea, Chills, Fever See Less

On December 25 I ordered Burgers and chicken strips.
In a couple of hours I was throwing up and got really sick over night. I was throwing up and had constant diarrhea. I went to the hospital the next day. I was in so much pain. They... See More told me I had an infection in my stomach and that it had spread. I went into septic shock. They gave me antibiotic for 5 days intravenously. They said i could have died. Later after testing they discovered that I had contracted Shigellosis, which is:

Shigella germs are in the stool (poop) of sick people while they have diarrhea and for up to a week or two after the diarrhea has gone away. Shigella germs are very contagious; it takes just a small number of Shigella germs to make someone sick. People can get shigellosis when they put something in their mouths or swallow something that has come into contact with the stool of someone else who is sick with shigellosis. People could get sick by:

Getting Shigella germs on their hands and then touching your food or mouth. You can get Shigella germs on your hands after:
Touching surfaces contaminated with germs from stool from a sick person, such as toys, bathroom fixtures, changing tables or diaper pails
Changing the diaper of a sick child or caring for a sick person
Eating food that was prepared by someone who is sick with shigellosis
Swallowing recreational water (for example, lake or river water) while swimming or drinking water that is contaminated with stool (poop) containing the germ
Having exposure to stool during sexual contact with someone who is sick or recently (several weeks) recovered from shigellosis..

It was an aweful experience. I almost died. I highly recommend no eat there. I am reporting it to the health department. | Symptoms: Diarrhea, Nausea, Vomiting, Other
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