Northern Kentucky Health Department
this fact sheet
Shigella pool sign
Shigella window cling
Pools: Frequently Asked Questions
What is Shigella?
Shigella is a
bacteria (germ) that infects the bowels. The Shigella bacteria causes an
illness called Shigellosis, which most often occurs in young children.
What are the
symptoms of Shigellosis?
The symptoms of
Shigellosis include: diarrhea (may be watery), fever, stomach cramps,
nausea or vomiting. The stools of a person with Shigellosis may contain
blood or mucus.
Shigellosis typically last between four and seven days. Persons with
Shigellosis, however, can show mild or no symptoms when infected.
How is Shigellosis
spread through contact with the stool of an infected person, and then
placing your hands, food or another object contaminated with the
bacteria in your mouth.
A person with
Shigellosis can spread the bacteria even if he/she does not have
symptoms, and is contagious as long as the Shigella bacteria is present
in the stool, which can be up to four weeks after the onset of the
A person with
Shigellosis is considered contagious until a negative stool cultures
has been obtained and at least 48 hours after the person has
finished taking a round of antibiotics.
Children with Shigella may be asked to stay home from school or child
symptoms have resolved and a stool
culture at least 48 hours after antibiotic treatment is completed
is negative; or until
symptoms have resolved and a
stool culture is negative
if no antibiotics are used.
Another way that Shigella can be spread,
particularly during the summer months, is by exposure through swimming
pools and spas. Anyone who has experienced diarrhea recently should not
be using your pool or spa until completely well, as individuals can be
contagious for several weeks after symptoms have subsided.
If someone infected with Shigella has an
accident in the pool, the bacteria can infect others if exposure occurs
before the bacteria are killed by the chemicals in the pool. This
happens either by getting bacteria on the hands and then putting the
hands in your mouth or swallowing infected pool water.
Young children are of special concern
because of the increased number of Shigella cases associated with
child care centers. In addition, young children are more prone to having
fecal accidents in the pool and tend to have inadequate hygiene habits.
Furthermore, the use of plastic diaper pants or diapers designed for use
in water, commonly called “swimmies”, cannot guarantee that some fecal
matter will not escape into the pool water.
More information about Shigella and
How can I keep from
To keep from getting
Shigellosis, you should:
your hands thoroughly with soap and running water after using the
restroom, after changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food.
This is the best way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases found
in the intestinal tract, such as Shigellosis.
use wading pools for groups of children, because Shigellosis is
transferred easily in standing water.
Dispose of soiled diapers properly
have diarrhea, stay home from work, school or day care until you are
better. Also, do not prepare food for others while you have diarrhea.
Do not go swimming in a public pool for at least two weeks.
You may also want to contact your doctor for testing.
More information on sanitizing
If I’ve been exposed
to Shigella, how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
The initial symptoms
of Shigellosis can occur between one and seven days (usually one to
three) after exposure.
What treatments are
available for Shigellosis? How serious is the disease?
Your doctor may also prescribe an
antibiotic. Medicines that reduce diarrhea by slowing down bowel
activity, such as Imodium AD or Lomotil, may make matters worse.
In some cases, severe diarrhea may
require hospitalization to avoid dehydration. In children less than 2
years old, Shigellosis has been found to cause a high fever and
How many cases of
Shigella have been reported in Northern Kentucky? Nationally?
In 2011, Northern Kentucky experienced an outbreak
of Shigella with 147 cases reported. In typical year, an average of 25
cases are reported.
year, about 18,000 cases of Shigellosis are reported in the United
States. Because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the
actual number of infections may be 20 times greater.
Shigellosis is particularly common and causes recurrent problems in
settings where hygiene is poor and can sometimes sweep through entire
communities. Shigellosis is more common in summer than winter.
Children, especially toddlers aged 2 to 4, are the most likely to get
shigellosis. In Northern Kentucky, many cases are related to the spread
of the illness in child-care settings, and many more are the result of
the spread of the illness in families with small children.
Where can I get more
information on Shigellosis?
For more information
online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control at
Check out this video from the Health Department on preventing the
spread of Shigella at child care centers and pools.
the Health Department at 859.363.2070.
Created: 6/12/07; Updated
Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department Epidemiology; Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention