What do I need to know before I travel?
Public Health Scotland logo

Fit for Travel Logo

Information on how to stay safe and healthy abroad. About us.

Shigellosis in Cape Verde

14 Nov 2022

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control reports a continuing outbreak of shigellosis in travellers returning to Europe from Cape Verde.

From November 2021 to October 2022, 55 cases of shigellosis have been reported from the United Kingdom (23 cases), The Netherlands (22 cases), Denmark (4 cases), France (3 cases), Germany (2 cases) and Portugal (1 case).

Shigellosis is a highly contagious infection which causes severe watery diarrhoea which may contain blood. People catch Shigellosis through contact with the poo from an infected person. You can become infected if you:

  • have poo on your hands and you touch your mouth
  • put objects in your mouth that are contaminated with the infected poo
  • consume food and water which is contaminated with the poo from an infected person

Even after feeling better, some people can still spread Shigella in their poo for several weeks. Most people feel better within a week without needing medical treatment. Very rarely, some people may become very unwell, these people should seek medical advice as soon as possible. There is no vaccine available against Shigellosis.

Advice to travellers

To minimise your risk of becoming infected with Shigellosis, you should practice good hand hygiene and safe food and water precautions.  This includes:

  • washing your hands thoroughly before eating, preparing food and after using the toilet
  • making sure your food is freshly cooked and piping hot
  • carefully washing fruit, vegetables, salads and herbs before eating them, and peel fruit and vegetables whenever possible
  • avoid milk or dairy products that have not been pasteurised

Always seek medical advice whilst travelling abroad if you develop symptoms of Shigellosis. Symptoms may include:

  • feeling and being sick (vomiting)
  • upset stomach
  • diarrhoea, which may be severe, watery and/or contain blood or slime
  • high temperature (fever)
  • tummy pain and/or cramping
  • dehydration, particularly if you aren't able to drink enough fluids

If you return home to the UK with symptoms of Shigellosis, you should

  • get plenty of rest
  • try to drink plenty of fluids to prevent becoming dehydrated
  • avoid use of over-the counter medications which prevent diarrhoea as these can make symptoms worse
  • seek medical review if you have a high temperature and feel very unwell

For further information, see the Travellers Diarrhoea page.