What is Shigella?
Shigella is a form of bacterial infection that’s usually transmitted through contact with contaminated faecal matter or water. This can often be found in swimming pool water, as well as food that’s been contaminated by a person who has come into contact with Shigella. Flies and other wildlife have also been known to spread the disease.
Shigella can cause dysentery in holidaymakers and can be spread by contaminated water and infected food handlers.
Common symptoms include:
- Bloody diarrhoea
- Stomach cramps
- Inflamed intestines
- Rectal tenesmus (the feeling that you need to pass a stool but can't)
Dysentery can be very harmful, particularly to young children, the elderly and those already in poor health. One of the biggest risks to your health is the severe dehydration that can result from diarrhoea. It’s therefore important for you to stay hydrated using rehydration salts if necessary.
The incubation period for Shigella is usually between 1 and 3 days, but symptoms can manifest anywhere between 12 hours and 7 days. As a result, you might not experience symptoms until returning to the UK.
Symptoms of Shigella typically last for between 1 and 14 days and are usually self-limiting, meaning they can resolve without the need for treatment. However, it's advisable to get a diagnosis from a medical professional if you suffer a holiday illness.