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Shigellosis is an acute enteric infection and still one of the leading causes of diarrhoeal deaths:

  • caused by consumption of food and water contaminated with bacteria from the genus Shigella

  • has symptoms like fever and headache, malaise, anorexia and vomiting

  • causing 165 million cases of diarrhea each year resulting in 212 438 deaths globally in all ages (1)

  • is the second most common cause of diarrhoeal deaths in children under 5 years of age after rotavirus

  • there is a lack of accurate data on the actual burden of disease in the regions most affected

  • there are four species in the genus Shigella: S. dysenteriae, S. flexneri, S. boydii and S. sonnei (2)

  • that the predominant serogroup of Shigella circulating in a community is different between developing and developed countries: in developing countries S. flexneri is the main serogroup (~60%) and with S. sonnei being the next most common (~15-25%) (3) and in developed countries S. sonnei is the most common serogroup (~77%), followed by S. flexneri (~16%) (4)


Vaccination has proven to be a key effective measure of preventing morbidity and mortality from childhood diarrhoeal diseases, as has clearly been shown by vaccines against the rotavirus, the most common cause of acute gastroenteritis in children.


Still there is no licensed vaccine available for use against Shigella.

Shigella flexneri: Congo red agar plate 

(1) Ibrahim Khalil and Troeger, 2018

(2) Levine and Kotloff, 2007

(3) Livio and Strockbine, 2014

(4) Kotloff and Winickoff, 1999

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