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Division of Epidemiology
275 East Main Street
Frankfort, KY  40621

What is Shigellosis?

Shigellosis is an acute intestinal infection caused by one of the four serotypes of Shigella bacteria. The severity of the illness depends on the Shigella type and the nutritional status of the patient. Shigella dysenteriae 1 is often associated with serious disease and severe complications that include toxic megacolon and the hemolytic-uremic syndrome.

How Shigellosis Is Spread?

The germs leave the body in the stool (bowel movements) of an infected person and infect another person when hands, food or objects (toys, pens, etc.) contaminated with the stool, are placed in the mouth. Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of Shigella.

The Symptoms Of Shigellosis?

Shigellosis is characterized by diarrhea (may be bloody or contain mucous), fever, nausea, cramps, and tenesmus. Asymptomatic infections may occur. Cases are seen in the summer and early fall and occur as single cases or outbreaks. The disease is usually self-limiting, lasting an average of 4-7 days.

How Shigellosis Is Diagnosed And Treated?

Shigellosis is diagnosed from a stool specimen. Antibiotics can be prescribed to shorten both the duration of illness and the lengths of time bacteria are passed in the stool.  Sometimes the infection clears without treatment.


  • Exclude infected individuals from high-risk settings (including food handlers, patient care and day care workers) until asymptomatic AND two consecutive negative stool cultures (collected at least 24hours apart and obtained at least 48 hours after discontinuance of antimicrobial therapy) are obtained.
  • Practicing good hygiene can prevent shigellosis.
  • Wash hands well with soap and water each time you use the bathroom.
  • Keep your home and surroundings clean to prevent contamination of food and water supply.
  • Clean and disinfect diapering area and potty chairs after each use.


Last Updated 7/31/2007