HAVE YOU HEARD OF SHIGELLA?


There has been a recent spike in Shigella infections in Brisbane recently with men who have sex with men (MSM). Shigella is a bacterial infection that is easily spread by poo particles entering the mouth.

Should I be worried?

While Shigella is not considered a Sexually Transmitted Infection, it is easily passed between MSM and left untreated can cause severe infection. In particular, people living with HIV (PLHIV) are at risk of a more severe infection. The duration of infectiousness can be greatly reduced with antibiotics and keeping hydrated is also important for treatment.

How will I know if I have Shigella? 

You may have diarrhoea, fever, nausea, vomiting and stomach cramps, or you may have no symptoms at all. Shigella is generally passed on by unwashed hands and can be as easy as food contamination or chewing fingernails. However MSM are at a higher risk of Shigella through oral-anal sexual behaviours like rimming. Symptoms usually present 1 – 3 days after exposure and usually last for 4 – 7 days. Your GP should be able to tell you if you have Shigella.

If I have Shigella what should I do?

  • If you are diagnosed with Shigella, the infection can still be passed on to others, so:
  • Wash your hands after using the bathroom, having sex and before eating or preparing food
  • Avoid communal baths, spas and saunas for at least 48 hours after the symptoms COMPLETELY resolve
  • Avoid having sex for 7 days after the symptoms resolve or ensure you have a bath or shower beforehand.

How can I prevent Shigella? 

  • Wash your hands:
  • before and after eating or preparing food
  • after going to the bathroom
  • after having sex.

During sex:

  • use a dam or condom (just cut it open) for rimming,
  • use gloves for fisting or fingering and
  • avoid douching – this can actually bring more bacteria to the area.

To prevent Shigella, just remember to avoid putting anything in your mouth that could have been contaminated with poo including unwrapped lollies, nuts or other food.