Shigella germs spread easily from one person to another; just a small amount of Shigella germs can make someone sick. Understanding how to prevent the spread of Shigella germs can help you protect yourself and your loved ones from getting sick.

How can I avoid getting sick from Shigella bacteria?

People usually get sick from Shigella bacteria after putting something in their mouth or swallowing something that has come into contact with the stool (poop) of someone else who is sick from Shigella bacteria. There is no vaccine to prevent shigellosis. However, you can reduce your chance of getting shigellosis by:

washing hands with soap and water
  • Carefully washing your hands with soap and water during key times:
    • Before eating or preparing food for others
    • After changing a diaper or helping to clean another person who went to the bathroom
  • If you care for a child in diapers who has shigellosis, promptly throw away soiled diapers in a covered, lined garbage can. Wash your hands and the child’s hands carefully with soap and water immediately after changing the diapers. Clean up any leaks or spills of diaper contents immediately.
  • Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes, or untreated swimming pools.
  • When traveling internationally, follow safe food and water guidelines and wash hands often with soap and water. For more information, see Travelers’ Health – Food and Water Safety.
  • Avoid sexual activity with those who have diarrhea or who recently (several weeks) recovered from shigellosis.

If you are sick with shigellosis you can prevent others from getting sick by:

  • Washing hands often, especially
    • Before preparing food or eating
    • After using the bathroom or changing diapers
  • NOT preparing food if you are sick
  • NOT sharing food with anyone if you or your family members are sick
  • NOT swimming
  • NOT having sex (vaginal, anal, and oral) for one week after you no longer have diarrhea. Because Shigella germs may be in stool for several weeks, follow safe sexual practices, or ideally avoid having sex, for several weeks after you have recovered.
  • Staying home from school or from healthcare, food service, or childcare jobs while sick or until your health department says it’s safe to return

Related Links

  • If you or your child have diarrhea, find more information to protect yourself, your family, and your community, as well as steps to get better.
  • Handwashing is the best way to protect yourself against Shigella infections. Please see the CDC handwashing website for more information.