There are 2 main types of dysentery:
As dysentery usually gets better on its own after 3 to 7 days, treatment is not usually needed.
However, it's important to drink plenty of fluids and use oral rehydration solutions if necessary to avoid dehydration.
You should stay at home until at least 48 hours after the last episode of diarrhoea, to reduce the risk of passing the infection on to others.
It's not always necessary to see a GP if you have dysentery, because it tends to get better within a week or so.
However, you should see a GP if your symptoms are severe or they do not start to improve after a few days. Let them know if you've been abroad recently.
If your symptoms are severe or persistent, a GP may prescribe a short course of antibiotics. If you have very severe dysentery, you may need treatment in hospital for a few days.
You can reduce your risk of getting dysentery by:
If you're travelling to a country where there's a high risk of getting dysentery, this advice can help prevent infection:
Read more about food and water safety abroad.
Bacillary and amoebic dysentery are both highly infectious and can be passed on if the poo (faeces) of an infected person gets into another person's mouth.
This can happen if someone with the infection does not wash their hands after going to the toilet and then touches food, surfaces or another person.
In the UK, the infection usually affects groups of people who are in close contact, such as in families, schools and nurseries.
There's also a chance of getting the infection through anal or anal oral sex (rimming).
In developing countries with poor sanitation, infected poo may contaminate the water supply or food, particularly cold uncooked food.