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Shigellosis

Shigellosis is an infection caused by Shigella bacteria that causes diarrhea. The bacteria are found in the stool and are easily passed between people when tiny bits of infected stool get in the mouth.

Causes

Anyone who comes into contact with infected stool can get shigellosis. The ways it can be passed through sex are: 

  • Through oral-anal contact (rimming)
  • By getting stool on your fingers and then touching your mouth
  • By putting objects that have stool on them into your mouth (such as sex toys)

Symptoms

Symptoms of shigellosis include diarrhea, sometimes with blood and mucous, fever, stomach cramps, rectal pain, nausea and vomiting. Symptoms may be mild, severe or there may be no symptoms. Symptoms usually happen one to three days after contact and most people get better within five to seven days without treatment. 

Complications

Talk to a doctor if you have fever, severe stomach pains or bloody diarrhea. If you have diarrhea, drink lots of fluids to avoid dehydration. Rarely, a person may need to be hospitalized if the diarrhea is severe enough.

Blood poisoning is another a rare complication.

Treatment

Shigellosis can be treated with antibiotics. Wait seven days after treatment before having unprotected oral-anal sex. If you are not being treated, wait seven days after you have no symptoms before having unprotected sex.

People with Shigellosis who care for children, the elderly or people who are ill should not go to work until the infection is cleared. Also, people who handle or prepare food should stay home until the infection is cleared. People no longer have the infection when stool specimens, taken after treatment, are negative.

Prevention

  • Use protection, such as a dental dams or condoms, for sex that involves oral-anal contact and use latex gloves for penetration of the anus
  • Use condoms on sex toys that you use with others
  • When handling the dental dam or removing the glove, do not touch the area that has been in contact with the anus
  • Wash your hands, other body parts, and any sex toys that may have touched stool
  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water after having a bowel movement and before preparing foods or drinks

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