Shigellosis is an extremely contagious disease; good hand washing techniques (especially after toileting young children or changing diapers) and proper precautions in food handling help in avoiding the spread of infection.
Patients who have very mild cases of shigellosis may improve without any antibiotic therapy; therefore, these drugs are indicated only for treatment of moderate or severe disease, as found in the tropics.
Most deaths are in less-developed or developing countries, but even in the United States, shigellosis can be a dangerous and potentially deadly disease.
Shigella is only one of several organisms that can cause dysentery, but the term bacillary dysentery is usually another name for shigellosis.
Parents of children suffering from shigellosis need to follow closely their healthcare provider's directions for preventing dehydration.