Causes and Symptoms of Shigellosis

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. The Shigella bacteria pass from one infected person to the next.

Every year, about 18,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States. Approximately 140 to 900 cases of shigellosis are reported in Minnesota each year.

On this page:
Fact Sheets
Duration of Illness

Fact Sheets


Symptoms include:

  • diarrhea (often bloody)
  • abdominal pain and cramps
  • fever

Symptoms usually begin 1 to 3 days after exposure (range, 12 hours to 4 days).

Duration of Illness

  • Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days.


  • In some persons, especially young children and the elderly, the diarrhea can be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.

  • A severe infection with high fever may also be associated with seizures in children less than 2 years old.

  • Some persons who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others.


  • Shigella are present in the stools of infected persons while they are sick and for a week or two after recovery.
  • Most Shigella infections are the result of the bacterium passing from stool or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person.
    • This happens when basic hygiene and handwashing habits are inadequate.
    • It is particularly likely to occur among toddlers who are not fully toilet-trained.
    • Family members and playmates of such children are at high risk of becoming infected.



Do you suspect that you have a foodborne illness? Visit reporting suspected foodborne illnesses.

Updated Thursday, 21-Jun-2012 11:08:59 CDT