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Shigellosis is a type of
food poisoning caused by infection with the shigella
bacterium. It is more common in summer than
winter. Children ages 2 to 4 are most likely to get the condition.
Shigellosis is spread
when the bacteria in feces (stool) or on soiled fingers are ingested. Poor
hand-washing habits and eating contaminated food may cause the condition.
Shigellosis is often found in day care centers, nursing homes, refugee camps,
and other places where conditions are crowded and sanitation is poor.
The symptoms of shigellosis
include diarrhea (often bloody), fever, and stomach cramps starting 1 or 2 days
after you are exposed to the bacteria. Shigellosis usually lasts 5 to 7 days.
In some people, especially young children and older adults, the diarrhea can be
so severe that a hospital stay is needed. Some people who are infected may have
no symptoms at all but may still spread shigellosis to others.
different diseases can cause a fever and bloody diarrhea, lab tests are the
best way to diagnose shigellosis. Your doctor will most likely still do a
physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms, foods you have
recently eaten, and your work and home environments. A stool culture confirms
the diagnosis. Blood tests may be done if your symptoms are severe or to rule
out other causes.
Shigellosis is usually treated
with antibiotics. But some types of Shigella bacteria
are not killed by antibiotics. This is called
resistance. Because using antibiotics can make these
bacteria even more resistant, mild cases of shigellosis are often not treated
with antibiotics. In this case, shigellosis is treated by managing complications until it passes.
Dehydration caused by diarrhea is the most common
complication. Do not use medicines to prevent diarrhea.
prevent dehydration, take frequent sips of a rehydration drink (such as Pedialyte). Try to drink a cup of water or rehydration drink
for each large, loose stool you have. Soda and fruit juices have too much sugar and not enough of the
electrolytes that are lost during diarrhea, and they
should not be used to rehydrate.
Try to stay with your normal diet
as much as possible. Eating your usual diet will help you to get enough
nutrition. Doctors believe that eating a normal diet will also help you feel
better faster. But try to avoid foods that are high in fat and sugar. Also
avoid spicy foods, alcohol, and coffee for 2 days after all symptoms have
You can help
prevent the spread of shigellosis by washing your hands frequently and
carefully with soap, especially if you work or spend time in day care centers
or with children who are not completely toilet trained. When possible, keep
young children with shigellosis who are still in diapers away from uninfected
If your child is in diapers and has shigellosis, after
diaper changing, wipe the changing area with a disinfectant such as
diluted household bleach and put the diapers in a
closed-lid garbage can. Then wash your hands with soap and warm water.
People who have
shigellosis should not prepare food or pour water for others. Shigella are present in the diarrhea of people with
shigellosis and for 1 or 2 weeks after symptoms have stopped.
shigellosis, it may take months before your bowel movements are completely
normal again. But people with diarrhea usually recover completely.
A small number of people who are infected with one type of shigella bacteria,
Shigella flexneri, will later develop pain in their
joints, irritation of the eyes, and painful urination. This is called
Reiter's syndrome. It can last for months or years and
can lead to chronic
Current as of:
June 4, 2014
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine & W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
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