Public Health Fact Sheet

What is Shigella?
Shigella is a bacteria that makes people ill. The illness is called Shigellosis and usually includes fever, diarrhea, and abdominal cramping.

How is Shigella spread?
Shigella germs are in the feces of an infected person. It is spread by an infected person who does not wash hands after having a bowel movement or changing the diapers of an infected child. It is indirectly spread by eating something prepared by an infected person who has not properly cleaned their hands and fingernails.

How long after exposure until symptoms begin and how long is a person contagious?
Symptoms usually begin 12-24 hours after exposure. The illness usually lasts 5-7 days. An infected person is contagious to others while they are actively ill until 1-2 weeks after their symptoms have resolved.

How is Shigella treated?
Shigella infection is usually diagnosed by checking a stool sample. Your doctor may prescribe medication.  Be sure to finish the medication completely, even if you feel better. Drink lots of fluid to avoid dehydration due to diarrhea.

How Shigella infection prevented?
Wash your hands. Handwashing is particularly important after using the bathroom, after changing a diaper and before eating or preparing foods. Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes, or untreated swimming pools.

Additional information is available on the CDC website at

Symptoms of Shigella

  • Diarrhea (may contain blood and mucus)
  • Fever

  • Nausea
  • Abdominal cramping

February 2020