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Shigella infection: Clinical manifestations and diagnosis

Rabia Agha, MD
Marcia B Goldberg, MD
Section Editors
Stephen B Calderwood, MD
Morven S Edwards, MD
Deputy Editors
Allyson Bloom, MD
Mary M Torchia, MD


Shigella species are a common cause of bacterial diarrhea worldwide, especially in developing countries. Shigella organisms can survive transit through the stomach since they are less susceptible to acid than other bacteria; for this reason as few as 10 to 100 organisms can cause disease [1]. Ingested bacteria pass into the small intestine where they multiply; large numbers of bacteria then pass into the colon, where they enter the colonic cells. Given its relatively low infectious dose, Shigella transmission can occur via contaminated food and water and via direct person-to-person spread. (See "Shigella infection: Epidemiology, microbiology, and pathogenesis".)

The clinical manifestations, complications, and diagnosis of Shigella infection will be reviewed here. The treatment of this infection is discussed separately. (See "Shigella infection: Treatment and prevention in adults" and "Shigella infection: Treatment and prevention in children".)


General features — Shigella is an infection of the lower gastrointestinal tract. Patients with Shigella gastroenteritis typically present with high fever, abdominal cramps, and bloody, mucoid diarrhea [2-6]:

Fever – 30 to 40 percent

Abdominal pain – 70 to 93 percent

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Literature review current through: Nov 2017. | This topic last updated: May 05, 2017.
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