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Shigella infection (shigellosis)

What is a shigella infection?

Shigellosis is the infection caused by the shigella bacterium. This is also called bacillary dysentery. This form of dysentery is the most common type of dysentry in the UK.

Shigella is a bacterium generally transmitted through faeces. It causes dysentery, an infection of the intestines causing severe diarrhoea.

The disease is far more common in tropical or temperate climates, especially under conditions of crowding, where personal hygiene is poor.


Symptoms of shigella include:

Diagnosis and treatment of shigellosis

If you think you may have been exposed to shigella, seek medical advice. By testing a sample of your stool, the bacteria can be identified.

People with mild infections usually recover within a few days without specific treatment. Drinking fluids to prevent dehydration is usually all that is needed. However, with severe infections, antibiotics and more intensive treatment to prevent dehydration are often needed.

Preventing a shigella infection

The shigella bacteria from stools of infected people can be passed to others if hygiene or hand-washing habits are inadequate. To help prevent transmitting the infection, you should always wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet or changing nappies.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on February 15, 2017

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