Shigella causes an estimated 500,000 cases of diarrhea in the U.S. every year. It spreads easily and rapidly from person to person and through contaminated food and recreational water. It can cause watery or bloody diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, and malaise. Although diarrhea caused by Shigella typically goes away without treatment, people with mild illnesses are often treated with antibiotics to stop the diarrhea faster.

To prevent the spread of shigellosis, CDC recommends that people wash their hands often with soap and water, especially after using the toilet and before preparing food or eating, keep children home from childcare and other group activities while they are sick with diarrhea, avoid preparing food for others while ill with diarrhea, and avoid swimming for a few weeks after recovering.

Travelers are also encouraged to:


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  • Observe food, water, and hand-hygiene precautions while traveling
  • Use over-the-counter medications like bismuth subsalicylate (eg, Pepto-Bismol) or loperamide (eg, Immodium) if they wish to treat mild or moderate travelers’ diarrhea
  • Reserve antimicrobial medications for severe cases of travelers’ diarrhea
  • Seek health care if they are experiencing diarrhea upon return to the U. S. or develop diarrhea shortly thereafter
  • Remain vigilant regarding hygiene practices while ill.