Symptoms and Signs of Shigella Infection

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 4/28/2022

Doctor's Notes on Shigella Infection

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Four species of Shigella (Shigella sonnei, Shigella flexneri, Shigella boydii, and Shigella dysenteriae) are responsible for the disease. Signs and symptoms of diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps characterize the disease. In addition, there may be blood in the diarrhea, and some people have the feeling of a need to move their bowels frequently. Infection with Shigella dysenteriae usually causes the most severe symptoms of dehydration, hemorrhagic colitis, seizures and death especially in young children.

Avoiding food and water contaminated with Shigella bacteria helps to prevent the disease.

What Are the Treatments for Shigellosis?

Mild infection in healthy people is self-limiting in about 7 days if you replace fluids lost due to diarrhea. Do not take OTC anti-motility drugs like loperamide as these medications may make symptoms worse.

  • OTC in confirmed shigellosis disease
  • Antibiotics (note that many Shigella subtypes are antibiotic resistant)
  • IV fluids and/or appropriate antibiotics in moderate to severe infections

Call your doctor if you are concerned about treatment protocols.

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Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.