Communicable Disease Fact Sheet
What is shigellosis?
Shigellosis is a bacterial infection of the intestines. It is
highly contagious and can cause severe infections
What are the symptoms?
Illness usually begins 1 to 4 days after swallowing the
bacteria and may last 4 to 7 days.
Symptoms may include:
- Diarrhea - watery and/or bloody
- Stomach cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Severe cases may cause dehydration (i.e. loss
of fluids) or convulsions in young
- Sometimes people have few or no symptoms
at all but can still pass the bacteria to others.
How is it spread?
- Shigella is found in the stool (bowel movement) of infected persons.
- It spreads when hands, food, water or objects (toys, etc.) become contaminated with the
stool of an infected person and then get into someone else`s mouth (e.g. when an infected
person does not wash hands well after using the bathroom).
- Swallowing recreational water contaminated with Shigella (e.g. lakes, rivers, swimming
- Not washing hands after using the bathroom or changing diapers.
Who gets shigellosis?
Anyone can get shigellosis but the following are at
greater risk of being infected:
- Children in day care centers
- Family members and playmates of children
infected with Shigella
- Travelers to certain foreign countries
- Institutionalized people
- Men having sex with men
What should I do if I have symptoms?
- Do not send your child to daycare or preschool
if he or she has diarrhea.
- Donít go to work if you are a healthcare
worker, food handler or a daycare worker.
- Contact your healthcare provider.
- Wash your hands often.
- Avoid preparing food for others.
How is shigellosis diagnosed?
- Shigella is identified from a stool culture test.
How is shigellosis treated?
- In some cases antibiotics may be prescribed.
- Persons with milder illness may recover on their
- Anti-diarrhea medications should not be used
to treat Shigella infection.
How can I prevent the spread of shigellosis?
- Wash your hands with warm, soapy water for 20
- After using the bathroom
- After changing diapers
- Before eating
- Before preparing food
- Wash your hands more often when someone in
the household is sick.
- Supervise/assist children to be sure they are
properly washing their hands.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces immediately after
vomiting or diarrheal accidents.
- Properly dispose of soiled diapers.
- People with diarrhea should not use public
swimming areas until one week after
Report Shigella cases to Saint Louis
County Department of Health by calling
Missouri State Regulations require health departments to restrict the activities of persons with
Shigellosis in certain settings. Food handlers, children and staff in day care settings, and health care
workers must obtain the approval of the local health department before returning to their routine