Chapter 154

The discovery of Shigella as the etiologic agent of dysentery—a clinical syndrome of fever, intestinal cramps, and frequent passage of small, bloody, mucopurulent stools—is attributed to the Japanese microbiologist Kiyoshi Shiga, who isolated the Shiga bacillus (now known as Shigella dysenteriae type 1) from patients′ stools in 1897 during a large and devastating dysenteryepidemic. Shigella cannot be distinguished from Escherichia coli by DNA hybridization and remains a separate species only on historical and clinical grounds.

Definition

Shigella is a nonspore-forming, gram-negative bacterium that, unlike E. coli, is nonmotile and does not produce gas from sugars, decarboxylate lysine, or hydrolyze arginine. Some serovars produce indole, and occasional strains utilize sodium acetate. S.dysenteriae, S. flexneri, S.boydii, and S. sonnei (serogroups A, B, C, and D, respectively) can be differentiated on the basis of biochemical and serologic characteristics. Genome sequencing of E. coli K12, S. flexneri 2a, S. sonnei, S. dysenteriae type 1, and S. boydii has revealed that these species have ∼93% of genes in common. The three major genomic “signatures” of Shigella are (1) a 215-kb virulence plasmid that carries most of the genes required for pathogenicity (particularly invasive capacity); (2) the lack or alteration of genetic sequences encoding products (e.g., lysine decarboxylase) that, if expressed, would attenuate pathogenicity; and (3) in S. dysenteriae type 1, the presence of genes encoding Shiga toxin, a potent cytotoxin.

Epidemiology

The human intestinal tract represents the major reservoir of Shigella, which is also found (albeit rarely) in the higher primates. Because excretion of shigellae is greatest in the acute phase of disease, the bacteria are transmitted most efficiently by the fecal-oral route via hand carriage; however, some outbreaks reflect food-borne or waterborne transmission. In impoverished areas, Shigella can be transmitted by flies. The high-level infectivity of Shigella is reflected by the very small inoculum required for experimental infection of volunteers [100 colony-forming units (CFU)], by the very high attack rates during outbreaks in day-care centers (33–73%), and by the high rates of secondary cases among family members of sick children (26–33%). Shigellosis can also be transmitted sexually.

Throughout history, Shigellaepidemics have often occurred in settings of human crowding under conditions of poor hygiene—e.g., among soldiers in campaigning armies, inhabitants of besieged cities, groups on pilgrimages, and refugees in camps. Epidemics follow a cyclical pattern in areas such as the Indian subcontinent and sub-Saharan Africa. These devastating epidemics, which are most often caused by S. dysenteriae type 1, are characterized by high attack and mortality rates. In Bangladesh, for instance, an epidemic caused by S. dysenteriae type 1 was associated with a 42% increase in mortality rate among children 1–4 years of age. Apart from these epidemics, shigellosis is mostly an endemic disease, with 99% of cases occurring in the developing world and the highest prevalences in the most impoverished areas, where personal ...

Sign in to your MyAccess profile while you are actively authenticated on this site via your institution (you will be able to verify this by looking at the top right corner of the screen - if you see your institution's name, you are authenticated). Once logged in to your MyAccess profile, you will be able to access your institution's subscription for 90 days from any location. You must be logged in while authenticated at least once every 90 days to maintain this remote access.

Ok

If your institution subscribes to this resource, and you don't have a MyAccess profile, please contact your library's reference desk for information on how to gain access to this resource from off-campus.

Subscription Options

AccessMedicine Full Site: One-Year Subscription

Connect to the full suite of AccessMedicine content and resources including more than 250 examination and procedural videos, patient safety modules, an extensive drug database, Q&A, Case Files, and more.