Shigella Infection (cont.)
In this Article
- Fungal Infections Slideshow: Fungus Among Us
- Take the Tummy Trouble Quiz
- Hepatitis C Slideshow Pictures
How is Shigella spread?
Shigella germs are present in the stools of infected persons while they have diarrhea and for up to a week or two after the diarrhea has gone away. Shigella is very contagious; exposure to even a tiny amount of contaminated fecal matter -- too small to see-- can cause infection. Transmission of Shigella occurs when people put something in their mouths or swallow something that has come into contact with stool of a person infected with Shigella. This can happen when:
- Contaminated hands touch your food or mouth. Hands can become contaminated through a variety of activities, such as touching surfaces (e.g., toys, bathroom fixtures, changing tables, diaper pails) that have been contaminated by stool from an infected person. Hands can also become contaminated with Shigella while changing the diaper of an infected child or caring for an infected person.
- Eating food contaminated with Shigella. Food may become contaminated if food handlers have shigellosis. Produce can become contaminated if growing fields contain human sewage. Flies can breed in infected feces and then contaminate food when they land on it.
- Swallowing recreational (for example lake or river water while swimming) or drinking water that was contaminated by infected fecal matter.
- Exposure to feces through sexual contact.
How can I reduce my risk of getting shigellosis?
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent shigellosis. However, you can reduce your risk of getting shigellosis by:
- Carefully washing your hands with soap during key times:
- Before eating.
- After changing a diaper or helping to clean another person who has defecated (pooped).
- If you care for a child in diapers who has shigellosis, promptly discard the soiled diapers in a lidded, lined garbage can, and wash your hands and the child's hands carefully with soap and water immediately after changing the diapers. Any leaks or spills of diaper contents should be cleaned up immediately.
- Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes, or untreated swimming pools.
- When traveling internationally, follow food and water precautions strictly and wash hands with soap frequently.
- Avoid sexual activity with those who have diarrhea or who recently recovered from diarrhea.
I was diagnosed with shigellosis. What can I do to avoid giving it to other people?
- Wash your hands with soap carefully and frequently, especially after using the toilet.
- Do not prepare food for others while you are sick. After you get better, wash your hands carefully with soap before preparing food for others.
- For those who work in healthcare, food service, or childcare facilities should not prepare or handle food for others until their local health department has authorized them to return to work. Improvements in worker sick leave policies and providing adequate hygiene facilities and education for food service workers may prevent shigellosis caused by contaminated foods.
- Avoid swimming until you have fully recovered.
- Don't have sex until several days after you no longer have diarrhea.
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