Home > Practice Areas > Foodborne Illness > Are You a Victim of Food Poisoning? > Shigellosis


Shigellosis is an intestinal infectious disease that can be spread through contaminated food and water. According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 4,000 cases occur every year in the United States. There are four main types of Shigellosis that cause infections, two of which will be dicussed here. Outbreaks of Shigellosis frequently occur in areas of poor hygiene, such as daycare and institutional settings. This bacteria is sometimes transmitted by food handlers who are sick or infected but have no symptoms and who do not properly wash their hands after using the bathroom.

Symptoms of Shigellosis include fever, fatigue, watery or bloody diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. These problems typically begin within two days after contact with Shigella.

A specific type of Shigella, S. Dysenteriae Type 1 bacteria, produce Shigella toxin which can severely damage the lining of intestines and kidneys. This toxin can cause life threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) which can then lead to kidney failure. S. Flexneri, another type of Shigella toxin, can progress to Reiter’s Syndrome.