A shigella infection (shigellosis) is an intestinal infection caused by a family of bacteria known as shigella. The main sign of a shigella infection is diarrhoea with a colour and texture to be aware of.
Shigella is caused by bacteria found in faeces.
Only a tiny amount needs to get into your mouth to pass it on – for example, from your fingers.
It’s often caused by contaminated food, however, it can also be passed on sexually.
Sex that may involve contact with faeces is a risk.
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shigella symptoms may include:
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Severe stomach cramping or tenderness
- Feel very sick.
Shigella is very contagious, warned the Mayo Clinic.
The health site added: “People get infected with shigella when they come in contact with and swallow small amounts of bacteria from the stool of a person who is infected with shigella.
“Shigella infection is an intestinal infection caused by a family of bacteria known as shigella. The main sign of shigella infection is diarrhoea, which often is bloody.”
Tips to reduce your risk of shigella include:
- Wash your hands during or after sex
- Wear condoms
- Latex gloves offer protection
- Don’t share sex toys or douching equipment
- Skin on the buttocks, around the backside or groin may carry the bacteria, so avoid licking these areas
- Showering after sex is even better than washing.
For most people this is an unpleasant illness that gets better on its own after three to seven days.
But some people can have a severe illness.
If your symptoms are severe or persistent, a GP may prescribe a short course of antibiotics. If you have very severe dysentery, you may need treatment in hospital for a few days.
It’s important to be tested for shigella so that the right antibiotics can be used to treat the infection.
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