Communicable Diseases, Emergency Preparedness and Response
Shigellosis is an infection caused by the bacteria Shigella. There are four species of Shigella: S. sonnei, S. flexneri, S. boydii and S. dysenteriae. Shigella is spread via the fecal oral route and easily transmitted from person to person through exposure to a small number of bacteria.
Symptoms of disease can range from mild to severe and include: fever, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. Severity of disease varies by Shigella species. Symptoms typically develop one to three days after infection and generally resolve in five to seven days. Shigella bacteria can stay in the stool of an infected person up to four weeks after symptoms resolve and rarely even longer.
Shigella infection may occur after eating or drinking contaminated food or water or exposure to feces through eating contaminated food, after diapering, and sexual contact. Those at highest risk of Shigella infection include children under the age of five and their caregivers, particularly those in day care settings. Individuals who practice anal-oral sex and travelers visiting developing countries are also at increased risk of infection.
Shigellosis can be prevented by practicing frequent and thorough hand washing, by taking appropriate food safety measures, avoiding water that has not been treated and using safer sexual practices.