Shigella on the rise in 2020.

Shigella (shigellosis) is a common diarrhoeal disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella.

Gay, bi men (and any men who have sex with men) are at greater risk of getting shigella. People living with HIV can have more serious or prolonged shigellosis illness.

There have recently been higher than usual cases of shigella within the Brisbane and the Gold Coast region among gay, bi men and  men who have sex with men.


  • Diarrhoea (sometimes bloody).
  • Fever.
  • Vomiting.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Tenesmus (an uncomfortable sensation of wanting to empty the bowels, when the bowels are empty).
  • Symptoms usually start 1 – 2 days after exposure, but may range from 12 – 96 hours.


  • When faecal matter (poop) that is infected with Shigella comes in contact with your mouth.
  • Fisting.
  • Sharing sex toys.
  • Rimming (licking bum).
  • Anal & oral sex.


  • Wash your hands well with soapy warm water after handling used condoms, sex toys & after having sex as well as after using the toilet.
  • Avoid touching your mouth during sex.
  • Use dental dams* for rimming (*a thin piece of latex that protects against direct mouth-to-genital or mouth-to-bum contact during oral sex & rimming). 
  • Don’t have sex until you are no longer infectious. This is usually one week after symptoms resolve.


  • A doctor or health care provider can test your stool (poop) to determine of you are infected with shigella.


  • Shigella is treatable with antibiotics.
  • Drink lots of fluids to prevent dehydration.
  • If you notice symptoms, avoid sexual contact until you have seen a doctor, completed full treatment and a week has passed since you last had symptoms.
  • If you work in the health care, aged care or child care sector; or food preparation and handling sector, seek further information from your doctor.

Click for more shigella information