There has been an increase in an infection called Shigella recently, especially in Men who have Sex with Men. Read below for more information.

What is shigella?

Shigella is a bacterial infection. It causes stomach cramps, diarrhoea and a fever. Gay, Bisexual and other men who have sex with men are particularly at risk but anyone can get Shigella.


Shigella is caused by bacteria. It is highly infectious and a tiny number of bacteria can cause severe symptoms.

There are several different types of Shigella, and you can get infected many times especially if you have low immunity.


Shigella is transmitted by contact with the faeces (shit) of an infected person. for instance, through ass play e.g. rimming, fingering, fisting etc. or sucking someone off who has had anal sex with someone else

Signs and symptoms

Symptoms of Shigella include diarrhoea lasting more than 48 hours (often with blood in it), stomach cramps and fever. Symptoms usually start within four days of getting infected and can be mistaken for food poisoning.


Wash your hands (and genitals) Before, during and after sex, especially if you’re rimming, fingering or handling used condoms and sex toys.

Using condoms for anal sex and latex gloves for fingering or fisting offers some protection. If you live in a Yorkshire MESMAC area you may be able to access our free condom scheme here.

You can get dental dams to act as a barrier when rimming from most sexual health clinics or A condom can be cut into a square to make a barrier for rimming.

Video with info on dental dams.

Try not to share sex toys, if you do use a fresh condom over the toy for each person using it.

Don’t share douching equipment.

There is a risk of Shigella transmission from licking skin which has bacteria on it, like the buttocks, groin, dick or skin near the arse. So after sex, having a full body shower is preferable to a quick sink wash.


Most people get over Shigella without medicines. Most cases of Shigella infection can cured with antibiotics. However, there are increasing cases of drug resistant Shigella.

If you have contracted Shigella sexually, a full sexual health check-up is a good idea.

What if I think I have shigella?

Visit a sexual health clinic or GP to get tested, explaining you may have picked up a gut infection from sex, possibly Shigella. The doctor needs to know this so you get the right tests and treatment.

If you have a bad case of diarrhoea, it’s a good idea to drink plenty of fluids to replace the ones you have lost.

The doctor will be able to advise you on whether you are able to return to work – this will depend on the type of work you do. If your work involves handling food, you should not return to work until shigella is ruled out.

If you’re worried about shigella symptoms, you can access testing at your local sexual health clinic from the list below:

Address: Level C, Junction 3 Moorgate Road, Rotherham, S60 2UD

Phone: 01709 427777

Address: Howard House, 2nd Floor, Bank St, Bradford BD1 1EE

Phone: 0303 330 9500


Address: 50 Merrion Way, Leeds, West Yorkshire, LS2 8NG

Phone: 0113 843 4495


What if I have Shigella?

Wait for 48 hours after the symptoms stop before going back to work.

A person with Shigella can be infectious for up to a month. During that time if you have Shigella (or any severe diarrhoea):

  • Wash your hands frequently! Do this after using the toilet and before eating or preparing food. Use warm water and soap. Avoid preparing food for other people while you’re ill or until a week after symptoms stop.
  • Avoid: saunas, swimming pools, Jacuzzis, hot tubs etc.
  • Avoid: Sex – until a week after symptoms stop.
  • Avoid sharing towels – use separate towels at home, and clean all taps, door handles, toilet handles, levers and seats with hot soapy water frequently.

Do you want more information on Shigella?

Please download this information leaflet
Find out more