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HealthInfo Canterbury


Shigella is a bacteria (germ) that can cause gastroenteritis.

You can catch the Shigella infection (or Shigellosis) by consuming contaminated food or water.

You usually get symptoms one to three days after being infected. Symptoms include diarrhoea, which may contain blood or mucus, stomach cramps, feeling sick and vomiting, and a fever. The symptoms usually clear up in three to seven days.

How is Shigella treated?

There's no medicine for Shigella. The treatment is aimed at relieving symptoms. Rest and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration. Take paracetamol or ibuprofen (ask your GP or pharmacist for advice) to help with fever, and aches and pains.

Doctors sometimes prescribe antibiotics for Shigella.

When and where should I seek help?

You should see your GP if you have bloody diarrhoea or a fever, or if your symptoms haven't gone away after seven days. You should also see your GP if you're very unwell or have a weakened immune system.

You should take your child to your GP if they aren't drinking, if they're passing less urine than usual, or if they seem drowsy.

How can I avoid spreading Shigella?

To reduce the risk of spreading the infection, it's important to have good hand hygiene. This includes washing your hands with soap and water, especially after using the toilet.

Try to avoid preparing food if you have Shigella. If you do prepare food, make sure you wash and dry your hands well first. Follow this food safety advice.

Stay away from work, community gatherings and school or preschool until you or your child have been free of symptoms for 48 hours. This includes the last time you had diarrhoea.

You should wait for at least two weeks after the last episode of diarrhoea before you go swimming in a pool.

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Written by HealthInfo clinical advisers. Last reviewed June 2018.


See also:

About diarrhoea & vomiting (gastroenteritis)

Diarrhoea & vomiting in children

Page reference: 49681

Review key: HIGTE-81185