Shigellosis in Children: Care Instructions

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Your Care Instructions

Shigellosis is a type of a food-borne illness. It's caused by infection with the Shigella bacteria. It can give your child diarrhea and stomach cramps. Your child may also vomit and have a fever. These symptoms usually last 5 to 7 days.

The bacteria is spread from stool, food, or contaminated water. Your child may get infected because the bacteria are on your child's fingers and your child then puts his or her fingers in the mouth. Or your child may eat food that was touched by someone who has the infection.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

How can you care for your child at home?

  • If the doctor prescribed antibiotics for your child, give them as directed. Do not stop using them just because your child feels better. Your child needs to take the full course of antibiotics.
  • Give your child lots of fluids, enough so that the urine is light yellow or clear like water. This is especially important when your child is vomiting or has diarrhea. Give your child sips of water or drinks such as Pedialyte or Gastrolyte. These drinks contain a mix of salt, sugar, and minerals. You can buy them at drugstores or grocery stores. Give these drinks as long as your child is throwing up or has diarrhea. Do not use them as the only source of liquids or food for more than 12 to 24 hours.
  • Watch for and treat signs of dehydration, which means the body has lost too much water. Your child's mouth may feel very dry. He or she may have sunken eyes with few tears when crying. Your child may lack energy and want to be held a lot. He or she may not urinate as often as usual.
  • Do not give your child over-the-counter antidiarrhea or upset-stomach medicines without talking to your doctor first. Do not give Pepto-Bismol or other medicines that contain salicylates, a form of aspirin, or aspirin. Aspirin has been linked to Reye syndrome, a serious illness.
  • Have your child try to eat small amounts of mild, low-fat foods. Try foods like rice, dry crackers, bananas, and applesauce. Avoid spicy foods for 2 days after symptoms are gone.

To help prevent shigellosis

  • If your child with shigellosis wears diapers, be careful with dirty ones. Wash your hands and your child's hands after you change or throw away a diaper. It's also a good idea to try to keep the child in diapers away from other children.
  • Wash your hands and your child's hands after bowel movements. If your home has more than one washroom, have your child use one washroom and ask others to use a different washroom.
  • Wash your and your child's hands before you eat.
  • Keep your kitchen clean. Wash your hands, cutting boards, and countertops with hot, soapy water.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • Your child passes out (loses consciousness).

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your child has new or more belly pain.
  • Your child has symptoms of dehydration, such as:
    • Dry eyes and a dry mouth.
    • Passing only a little dark urine.
    • Feeling thirstier than normal.
  • Your child cannot keep down fluids.
  • Your child has new or more blood in stools.
  • Your child has a new or higher fever.

Watch closely for changes in your child's health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if:

  • Your child is not getting better after 2 days (48 hours).

Where can you learn more?

Go to https://www.healthwise.net/patientEd

Enter I456 in the search box to learn more about "Shigellosis in Children: Care Instructions".

Current as of: March 3, 2017

Author: Healthwise Staff

Medical Review: Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine & Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine & Leslie Tengelsen, PhD, DVM -