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Shigella Disease

    What is Shigella?

    Shigella is a gram-negative bacterium that belongs to the Enterobacteriaceae family. A person can feel a severe cramp in their stomach and lower abdomen. The infection can cause belly pain, fever, and watery or bloody diarrhea.

    There are four species of Shigella:
    • Shigella Dysentery
    • Shigella Flexneri
    • Shigella Boydii
    • Shigella Sohnei

    In human, this species can occur Shigellosis, which is the contagious infection of the intestines. Shigellosis can progress to Dysentery which will lead to abdominal pain and diarrhea.

    Shigella bacterium is spread through contaminated food or water or through contact with any contaminated feces. The bacteria will release some toxins that will cause irritation in your intestines. The primary symptom is diarrhea.


    Mainly infection can be found in a person’s body when the Shigella bacterium is swallowed accidentally. It can happen when a person:

    Touch their mouth:- The disease can be transmitted directly from person to person. For example, if you are feeding a baby infected with Shigella disease and without washing your hands properly you touch your mouth, there is a chance of getting infected.

    Eating contaminated Food:- Infected people who are carrying or preparing the food can spread the infection to the person who is eating the food. Food can also get infected with shigella bacteria if it grows in the field that contains sewage.

    Drinking contaminated Water:- Water can easily become infected with the Shigella bacteria either from sewage or from the person who’s sharing their water.

    Risk Factors

    Participating in group activities:- A close contact with people can easily transmit the bacteria. Shigella outbreaks are very common in the crowded area.

    Children:- Children under the age of 5 years of age will be most likely to get infected with shigella infection. But shigella can also infect any age group.


    A person infected with shigella disease can show various signs and symptoms after one or two days of getting in contact with the shigella infection. Some of the common symptoms are:

    • Diarrhea
    • Stomach pain or Cramp
    • Abdominal Pain
    • Fever
    • Nausea and Vomiting


    Shigella infection can create many complications for the people who are infected with it. Some of the complications it include:


    Continuous diarrhea will lead to dehydration. Some of the symptoms it includes are lightheadedness, dizziness, and sunken eyes.


    Children who are facing shigella infection have seizures. Seizures can be commonly found in children who are having a high fever.

    Rectal Prolapse

    This condition will lead to straining during bowel movements or inflammation in the large intestine which can cause the mucous membrane or lining of the rectum to move out from the anus.

    Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome

    This is a rare complication which can be found in shigella infection. It is more commonly caused by a type of E. coli bacteria and can lead to low blood cell count and kidney failure.

    Toxic Megacolon

    This is a very rare complication that occurs when the colon becomes paralyzed and prevents you from having a bowel movement. Some symptoms it can include are stomach pain, swelling, fever, and weakness.

    Bloodstream infection

    Shigella infection will cause damage to the lining of the intestines. In some rare cases, Shigella bacteria will enter the bloodstream through the damaged intestinal lining and cause bloodstream infection.


    Some of the preventive major a person can follow to get rid of the Shigella infection are:

    • Regularly wash your hand with hand wash or soap for 20 seconds.
    • Keep an eye on the small children and wash their hands properly.
    • Throw away used diapers properly and wash your hands.
    • Clean the diaper changing area after use.
    • Avoid preparing food if you are showing any of the shigella symptoms.
    • Avoid using contaminated water.


    The things you should be knowing about Shigella Infection:

    • The bacteria name is Shigella and the infection is called as shigellosis.
    • Symptoms it shows are diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps which will last till 7 days.
    • Shigella infection is a transmitted disease.
    • A small bacteria can make a person sick.
    • Contaminated water and food is the main source of spreading infections.
    • During COVID-19 the infection can be prevented in an early stage by maintaining proper hygiene.
    • Bacteria is spread through the infected surfaces, touching the face or mouth directly and through eating the food prepared by the infected person.
    • People of all the ages can be infected but children are most likely susceptible to Shigella infection.
    • According to a report in Kerala, the children are more likely getting infected to this disease and people who are travelling are also getting exposed to shigella disease.


    There are various causes of diarrhea, so a lab test will be needed for figuring out the infection. The doctor will ask you to give a stool sample for examination. They may also ask you to go for further tests for providing the treatments and antibiotics accordingly.