Shigellosis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 5/9/2020

Shigellosis is an infection caused by a type of bacteria known as Shigella.

Signs and symptoms of shigellosis include

  • diarrhea that may be bloody,
  • fever,
  • stomach or abdominal pain, and
  • feeling a need to have a bowel movement, even though the bowels are empty (a sensation medically known as tenesmus).

Cause of shigellosis

Most of these infections are caused by the bacterium passing from stools or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person. This happens when basic hygiene and hand-washing habits are inadequate, leading to contaminated food or water. It can also spread during certain types of sexual activity. Shigella infection is highly contagious. Being exposed to even a miniscule amount of contaminated fecal matter can cause infection.

Other shigellosis symptoms and signs

  • Diarrhea That May Be Bloody
  • Feeling a Need to Have a Bowel Movement, Even Though the Bowels Are Empty (a Sensation Medically Known as Tenesmus)
  • Fever
  • Stomach or Abdominal Pain


Bowel regularity means a bowel movement every day. See Answer

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Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.