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 15,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States. Approximately 60 to 900 cases of shigellosis are reported in Minnesota each year.

On this page:
Fact Sheets
Symptoms
Duration of Illness
Complications
Transmission

Fact Sheets

Symptoms

Common symptoms include:

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

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

Duration of Illness

  • Shigellosis usually resolves in 4 to 7 days.

Complications

  • 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.

Transmission

  • Shigella bacteria 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 (outbreaks typically occur in daycare and preschools settings).
      • Transmission can also occur when swimming in or drinking contaminated water.

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

Updated Tuesday, July 22, 2014 at 01:26PM