Acute Communicable
Disease Control


Contact Information
County of Los Angeles
Department of Public Health
Acute Communicable Disease Control
313 N. Figueroa Street, #212
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone: (213) 240-7941
Fax: (213) 482-4856

Call 211 For Information 24/7

Have questions about things like where to go for vaccinations or other health care services?

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Acute Communicable Disease Control
Shigellosis (Shigella)


Currently, an increase in cases of an uncommon type of Shigella is occurring in Los Angeles and other counties in California. There have been two deaths. All cases have been among men, many self-identified as gay or bisexual. Men who have sex with men (MSM) are at increased risk for this disease.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health recommends:
  • MSM should be aware of the outbreak and that Shigella can be a severe illness, particularly in those with reduced immunity
  • Changing sexual practices to avoid oral-anal contact will help prevent disease
  •  Any MSM with fever and diarrhea should see their healthcare provider and a stool culture should be done to identify whether the cause is Shigella
  • Antibiotic treatment will shorten duration of illness and reduce the risk of transmission
  • Abstaining from sex for at least 2 weeks after infection is important to further reduce transmission (and then maintaining safe sex practices when one resumes sexual relations)
  • Those with Shigella infection should not prepare food for others while sick
  • People who work in healthcare, food service, or childcare, might be kept from work until they recover 

For more information:
Shigellosis in Gay, Bisexual and Men who Have Sex with Men FAQ  English  Spanish

Shigellosis Palm Card for MSM  English  Spanish

Shigellosis: Frequently Asked Questions  English  Spanish

Summary of Los Angeles County Outbreak Investigation 2017 (slides in PDF)

LAC DPH Health Alert: Cluster of Shigella flexneri Infections among Men in Los Angeles and Other Southern California Counties

What is Shigellosis?
Shigellosis is caused by a Gram-negative bacillus with 4 main serogroups: Shigella dysenteriae (group A), S. flexneri (group B), S. boydii (group C) and S. sonnei (group D). Incubation period is 1-3 days. Transmission occurs when individuals fail to thoroughly wash their hands after defecation and spread infective particles to others, either directly by physical contact, including sexual behaviors, or indirectly by contaminating food. Infection may occur with ingestion of as few as 10 organisms. Common symptoms include diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting, and tenesmus. Stool may contain blood or mucous. In general, the elderly, the immunocompromised, and the malnourished are more susceptible to severe disease outcomes. 

Additional Resources
Shigella Infections among Gay & Bisexual Men

Note: Content contains mature language

Gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are at risk for Shigella infections.

CDC: General Information

Print-and-Go Fact Sheet

Shigellosis Palm Card for MSM
(English) (Spanish)
Shigellosis FAQ for Gay, Bisexual and MSM
(English) (Spanish)
Frequently Asked Questions
(English) (Spanish)
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