Last updated: 23 December 2020
What is it?
Shigella is a type of bacteria that can be found in the gut of humans and other animals
- Shigella can get into food from the faeces (poo) of an infected person or animal, for example from poor hand washing or contact with sewerage or manure
- Foods at higher risk of contamination include foods handled a lot during preparation (e.g. salads and sandwiches) and raw vegetables
What’s the risk?
- Shigella can cause a type of gastro called shigellosis
- Shigellosis is contagious
- Sometimes illness can cause seizures and longer-term problems such as arthritis
- Anyone can get shigellosis but it is more likely that very young children and the elderly could get seriously ill
- People with poor personal hygiene may be more likely to get shigellosis
- People traveling to countries with poor sanitation may be exposed to Shigella
- Even a small amount of Shigella can make someone sick
Reduce your risk
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and dry them before preparing and eating food, especially after going to the toilet or changing nappies
- Keep equipment clean, particularly in higher risk environments like childcare centres, aged care facilities, institutions and food premises
- When traveling to places with poor sanitation, drink bottled water and avoid food that might have been prepared with contaminated water
Symptoms of shigellosis
- Symptoms usually start 12 hours to 4 days after eating contaminated food
- Common symptoms are sudden abdominal cramping, fever, diarrhoea (sometimes bloody), nausea and vomiting. Seizures may happen from high fever
- In general, symptoms may occur for 4 to 7 days.