31/08/2018 11:13 BST | Updated 31/08/2018 11:45 BST

What Is Shigella? Symptoms And Treatment Of Shigellosis Bacterial Infection Explained

Two people in the Egyptian hotel where a British couple died have been diagnosed with the illness.

Two guests staying at a hotel in Egypt, where a British couple died last week, are suffering from shigellosis (a type of dysentery) caused by the bacteria shigella, it has been reported.

The mother and daughter were evacuated from Steigenberger Aqua Magic hotel, Hurghada, along with all other hotel guests after John and Susan Cooper died suddenly. Officials are currently investigating how they died.

Nick Harris, a travel lawyer from Simpson Millar representing several guests, told the Telegraph: “This is a crucial development and may indicate pathogens were present at the property.

“Shigella is a communicable disease. In my experience it is often food borne but it’s also water borne so you can get it through contaminated water.”

So what actually is a shigella infection and how does it impact health?

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The main symptom of shigellosis is diarrhoea which can contain blood or mucus. According to the NHS, other symptoms include: very painful stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting, and a fever of 38C (100.4F) or above.

It can cause people to be sick for between five and seven days. 


Public Health England says if symptoms do develop, you should check out the NHS Choices website for advice on how to manage diarrhoea. This includes tips on avoiding dehydration through simple measures like drinking plenty of fluids and using oral rehydration solutions.

Interestingly, the NHS advises against using antidiarrhoeal medications such as loperamide “because they can make things worse”.

Painkillers may also help ease any pain, it said.

To prevent bacteria from spreading, people experiencing diarrhoea should stay away from work or school until they have been free of symptoms for 48 hours.

If symptoms worsen or you have underlying medical conditions, you should book in to see your GP.

Public Health England said most infections resolve without antibiotic treatment. It did add however, that in a small number of cases shigella infection can result in more severe issues.


Hygiene is incredibly important in preventing the spread of shigella.

Members of the public are encouraged to wash their hands regularly and thoroughly with soap and warm water to prevent bacteria from spreading. This is particularly important after doing things such as using the toilet, changing nappies and before preparing or eating food.