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Shigella

What is Shigella infection? Shigella are bacteria that can make you sick if they get into your mouth. The sickness starts about a day to two days after the Shigella bacteria gets into your mouth. You might be sick for about five to seven days. See a doctor if you think you are sick from Shigella. Ask that your diarrhea be tested for Shigella.

 

 
  • Front page of Shigella Fact SheetShigella Fact Sheet (PDF 89KB)
    View, download and print the Shigella Fact Sheet. 
    Shigella are bacteria that can make you sick if they get into your mouth. The sickness starts about a day to two days after the Shigella bacteria gets into your mouth. You might be sick for about five to seven days. See a doctor if you think you are sick from Shigella.
 

Contact Us

For more information, please contact the Oral Health, Communicable Disease and Sexual Health Services Division:

  • 519-663-5317 Ext. 2330
 

What are the symptoms of Shigella infection?

Symptoms start a day to two days after the Shigella bacteria gets into your mouth. Symptoms can include:

  • fever
  • diarrhea
  • bloody diarrhea
  • stomach cramps

See a doctor if you think you are sick from Shigella. Ask that your diarrhea be tested for Shigella.

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Do I need treatment?

Persons with mild Shigella infection usually recover quickly without medicine. However, in severe cases, medicines may kill Shigella bacteria, and may shorten illness by a few days. Use of Imodium™ can make the illness worse and should be avoided. Drink fluids, like water and juice, to replace the lost fluids.

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Where does Shigella come from? How is it spread?

Shigella bacteria are in diarrheal stools of infected persons while they are sick and for up to a week or two afterwards. The bacteria are spread by the fecal-oral route. Shigella can get into your mouth from touching diarrhea or items with diarrhea on it and putting fingers into the mouth of a person. This happens when hands are not washed or washed well and can happen during certain types of sexual activity. This happens more often among toddlers who are not fully toilet-trained. People at high risk of becoming infected are family members and playmates of such children.

Do not prepare food for others if you have Shigella.

Shigella can be spread by:

  • Food handlers with improper food handling, poor hand washing and personal hygiene
  • Infants and toddlers who are not toilet trained, to their family members, caregivers and playmates
  • People with poor bowel control, to their environment in homes and hospitals
  • Eating or drinking food with the bacteria on it
  • Swimming or playing in water with the bacteria in it
  • Sexual activity that involves anal-oral contact

Shigella is not spread by coughing, kissing, or through normal, everyday contact with neighbors or friends.

If you are employed as a food handler or a health care worker and have diarrhea, go home or stay home.
Report your symptoms to your manager. Contact your doctor for stool testing.

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How can I prevent Shigella infection?

Travel Safe

When traveling to developing countries, drink only treated or boiled water, and eat only cooked hot foods or fruits you peel yourself

Wash Your Hands

  • Make sure hands are properly washed before preparing food  and after using the toilet, helping others toilet and changing soiled diapers
  • The six steps to good hand washing are:
  1. Wet hands with warm running water
  2. Put liquid soap on hands
  3. Lather hands and scrub for 20 seconds
  4. Rinse under running water
  5. Dry your hands with paper towels
  6. Use the towel to turn off the taps
 
 
  1. Apply the hand rub to your hands. Use an amount about the size of a dime.
  2. Rub your hands together until the hand rub is gone. Hands will feel dry in about 15 seconds.

Safe Food Handling

People who are sick with Shigella should not prepare food for others because they may contaminate the food and make other people sick.

Foods that are contaminated with Shigella bacteria do not look or smell bad. Follow tips for food safety at home and use these safety tips at all times:

  • Cook all raw meats, poultry and fish very well. Follow Safe Food Preparation at Home for information about cooking temperatures.
  • Clean and sanitize kitchen counters, cutting boards and utensils after raw meats, poultry or fish have been on them, and before you make foods you will eat raw.
  • Drink water from a safe supply. Lakes, streams, or other sources are untreated and may not be safe. Keep water out of your mouth while swimming in lakes or pools.

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If you have a Shigella infection, you will be contacted by your local Public Health Department for follow-up.

 
Date of creation: February 7, 2013
Last modified on: January 11, 2016
 

References

1Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shigellosis. (2013). Retrieved from
http://www.cdc.gov/shigella/index.html