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Shigella: Facts and Details

What is shigellosis?

Shigellosis is a diarrheal infection caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella.

How common is shigellosis?

Every year, there are about 500,000 cases of shigellosis in the U.S. 

How is shigellosis spread?

Shigella bacteria are spread by touching objects or eating food or water that has come into contact with an infected person’s stool (poop). Exposure can also occur through sexual contact.

What are the symptoms of shigellosis?

Symptoms of shigellosis typically start one to two days after exposure. Symptoms include diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, stomach pain and straining to pass stools even when bowels are empty.

How long is a person contagious?

Shigellosis usually lasts between five and seven days. An infected person could spread the bacteria for up to two weeks after diarrhea has ended.

How is shigellosis treated?

Shigellosis will resolve by itself, usually within five to seven days. People with mild illness may need only fluids and rest. Antibiotics may be useful for severe cases. However, Shigella bacteria are resistant to antibiotics. Therefore, medical providers should test the bacteria to determine which antibiotics are likely to work, if treatment is needed. 

How can you prevent shigellosis?

There is no vaccine to prevent shigellosis. Prevent infection by:

Stop the spread of disease by:


For more information:

Contact the Sedgwick County Division of Health Epidemiology Program at 316‐660‐7300.