Shigella Infection, Adult

Shigella dysentery (inflammation of the bowels) is an infection caused by bacteria. Shigella dysentery may also be called enteritis.


Shigella bacteria can easily be transmitted by:

  • Food or water contaminated with the bacteria.

  • Person to person by the fecal-oral route. This means that hands contaminated with human waste can infect by contacting another person's:

  • Food.

  • Mouth.


Typical symptoms of this infection include:

  • Diarrhea (commonly with blood or mucus in the stool).

  • Belly (abdominal) pain or cramps.

  • Fever and sometimes feeling sick to the stomach (nausea) and vomiting.


In general, antibiotic medicines are given to all persons with this infection. Antibiotics will likely:

  • Shorten the course of symptoms.

  • Decrease the likelihood that the infection is spread to others.


  • Take your antibiotics as directed. Finish them even if you start to feel better.

  • Only take over-the-counter or prescription medicines for pain, discomfort, or fever as directed by your caregiver.

  • If you have an appetite, eat a normal diet unless your caregiver tells you differently.

  • Eat a variety of complex carbohydrates (rice, wheat, potatoes, bread), lean meats, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Avoid high-fat foods because they are more difficult to digest.

  • If you do not have an appetite, do no t force yourself to eat.

  • You need to stay well hydrated. Drink frequently but in small amounts. Drink enough water and fluids to keep your urine clear or pale yellow. Until your diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting is under control, you should drink clear liquids only. Clear liquids are anything you can see through such as water, broth, or non-caffeinated tea. Avoid:

  • Milk.

  • Fruit juice.

  • Alcohol.

  • Extremely hot or cold fluids.

  • Adults who are older or who have a chronic illness may rapidly become dehydrated if diarrhea continues along with vomiting. Therefore, medicine may be taken to control the nausea if present, either in an oral or a suppository form.

  • If you are dehydrated, ask your caregiver for specific rehydration instructions. Signs of dehydration may include:

  • Severe thirst.

  • Dry lips and mouth.

  • Dizziness.

  • Dark urine.

  • Decreasing urine frequency and amount.

  • Confusion.

  • Rapid breathing or pulse.

  • Anti-diarrheal medicines are not recommended.

  • Wash hands well to avoid spreading the bacteria.

  • It is important that you keep all follow-up appointments. Be sure to tell your caregiver if your symptoms continue or return.


  • You are unable to keep fluids down.

  • Vomiting or diarrhea becomes persistent.

  • Abdominal pain develops, increases, or localizes.

  • Diarrhea becomes excessive or contains increased blood or mucus.

  • You experience excessive weakness, dizziness, fainting, or extreme thirst.

  • You experience significant weight loss. Your caregiver will tell you what loss should concern you or suggest another visit for follow-up.

  • You have a fever.


  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.