Shigella are the group of bacteria that cause shigellosis. There are four main species that cause human disease. All four of these species are found in the feces (stool) of infected people. They live inside the small and large intestines of infected people, where they damage the intestinal wall. It is this damage that leads to the characteristic diarrhea found in shigellosis.
There are three main ways that shigella are spread:
- Person-to-Person. Any infected person can infect others by failing to properly wash their hands before handling food or coming into close contact with another person. Infections in households, pre-schools, child care facilities, and elderly and developmentally disabled living facilities commonly spread in this manner.
- Foodborne. Flies can potentially spread the bacteria by landing on contaminated feces and then food
- Waterborne. Fecal contaminated recreational water, such as fill and drain wading pools, can be a source for spread.