Diagnosing a shigella infection typically entails evaluating symptoms and performing tests. Confirming the presence of shigella bacteria or their toxins often necessitates a stool test.


The treatment for shigella infection is determined by its severity. For most people with shigellosis, they start feeling better within four to seven days. Some may only require replacing lost fluids from diarrhea and adequate rest, especially if the infection is mild and the person is generally healthy.

However, they may still be contagious for weeks after they recover. If the infection is severe, it might take three to six weeks to fully recover.

Treatment options include:

  • Overthecounter medications: Bismuth subsalicylate, found in some overthecounter medications, may alleviate stool frequency and shorten the duration of the illness. However, it’s not recommended for individuals allergic to aspirin, pregnant women, or small children. Overthecounter antimotility drugs like loperamide, as well as medications containing diphenoxylate and atropine, are not advisable for shigellosis as they can impede the body’s ability to eliminate the bacteria and exacerbate the condition.
  • Antibiotics: For people with weaker immune systems or for severe cases of shigellosis, antibiotics like ciprofloxacin or azithromycin may be prescribed. It is important to finish all the antibiotics, even if one starts feeling better before taking them all. Antibiotics can help shorten the illness, but some shigella bacteria are resistant to drugs. Thus, they are only prescribed if the infection is severe or if the person is at higher risk.
  • Fluid and salt replacement: Healthy adults can usually manage dehydration from diarrhea by consuming water, whereas children may require an overthecounter oral rehydration solution like Pedialyte. In cases of severe dehydration, especially in children and adults, fluids and salts can be administered intravenously for faster hydration and nutrient replenishment compared to oral solutions. This intervention is typically carried out as part of hospital treatment.