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How Do You Know If You Have Shigella? Symptoms, Treatment


Symptoms of a Shigella infection include diarrhea, fever, stomachache, and tenesmus.

If you have a Shigella infection, you may experience the following signs and symptoms about one to two days after the exposure:

  • Diarrhea or loose stools that may be blood-stained
  • Fever
  • Stomachache
  • Tenesmus (a frequent feeling or urge that you need to have a bowel movement even if you just emptied your bowels)

Some people who have been exposed to a Shigella infection could be asymptomatic.

Rarely, some people may experience the following symptoms after a Shigella infection:

What is Shigella?

Shigella is a type of bacteria that causes infection of the gut called shigellosis.

Several species of Shigella may cause gut infections, such as:

  • Shigella dysenteriae (rare in the United States but causes deadly shigellosis outbreaks in developing countries)
  • Shigella sonnei (causes most of the shigellosis cases in the United States)
  • Shigella flexnerii (the second most common cause of shigellosis in the United States)

Shigella can be found in water contaminated with infected sewage, which may then contaminate food products rinsed in the water. Crops grown in polluted water can carry the bacteria as well. Flies may carry the bacteria if they touch feces and contaminate food. 

The infection is generally spread by consuming such contaminated water or food. Infection may spread by touching the mouth or eating with dirty fingers that have touched anything soiled with feces, such as bathroom fixtures, toilet seats, toys, and used diapers.

When do you seek medical help?

Usually, the symptoms of Shigella infection go away in five to seven days. Some people, however, may experience symptoms for four or more weeks, whereas others may take months to get their bowel habits back to normal.

One must seek medical attention if they experience any of the following symptoms:

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