January 4, 2024

Close up of a man with a tattooed arm washing hands with soap in a sinkThe Health Department is monitoring an increase in cases of Shigella, an illness that causes diarrhea.

Shigella is spread through infected poop and is highly contagious. It can be easily prevented with regular handwashing.

The most recent cluster of cases has been among people living outside and in shelters. That’s because when you’re camping, it’s harder to access toilets, handwashing sinks and soap.

Together with the City of Portland, Joint Office of Homelessness and other partners, we’ve been working to get the word out to people living outside and reduce the spread. We’re also distributing hygiene kits and have set up some temporary hand-washing stations.

Cases of shigella are not rare in our area. Occasionally, like right now, we see an increase in cases among a connected social group with close physical contact, including sex. Cases of shigella are also currently being monitored in other groups -- men who have sex with men and people who have traveled recently. 

Although it can be worrisome to hear about diseases spreading in our community, the general public is at low-risk of getting sick from Shigella.


Shigella causes severe diarrhea, fever and fatigue. Some common ways people get sick from Shigella include:

  • Touching something that has infected poop on it (surfaces and objects) and then touching your mouth
  • Taking care of someone with a Shigella infection
  • Eating food prepared by someone with a Shigella infection
  • Exposure to poop during sexual contact with someone with a current or recent Shigella infection
  • Swallowing water contaminated by sewage or flood

If You Think You Might Have Shigella

Contact your doctor or clinic. If you don’t have a regular care provider, you can call 211 for help.

It’s especially important seek medical care if you have:

  • A weakened immune system (HIV or cancer)
  • Diarrhea for 3 days
  • Bloody diarrhea with fever and/or cramps
  • Symptoms lasting longer than 2 weeks
  • Dizziness or symptoms of dehydration

If you have Shigella, you may get a call from us with more information about how to take care of yourself.

Shigella can stay in your poop up to 4 weeks. You can still spread it after you feel better.

To Prevent Shigella

Avoid contact with poop. Wash your hands thoroughly and often with soap and warm water. Especially after going to the bathroom, changing diapers and before you make or eat food.

Hand sanitizer will work if you don’t have soap and water.

Pets and other animals cannot get Shigella. They also cannot spread it to people or other animals.

More Information

Shigella/Shigellosis - Centers for Disease Control & Prevention

What to Know about Shigella (197.26 KB)
Lo que debe saber sobre la Shigella (198.14 KB)