top of page

Disease Focus: Shigella


Author(s)/Organizations: Geeta Shakya, Jyoti Acharya, Shailaja Adhikari, and Nisha Rijal

Title of Article: Shigellosis in Nepal: 13 years of review of nationwide surveillance

Reviewed by: Courtney Johnston


This paper is about the diarrheal bacteria Shigella. The authors go on to talk about what the bacteria is and what it consists of and who is more susceptible to getting the bacteria. 99% of Shigella cases occur in developing countries and of those cases, 69% occur in children under the age of five. They go on to describe that this bacteria is becoming resistant to antibiotics, especially in Nepal. With it being resistant the treatment for the bacteria is becoming complicated and harder to treat. They conducted a study at local hospitals in Nepal and they surveyed the patients to ask them about their symptoms. They took samples to laboratories and looked at the various types of strains.

They found that Shigella dysenteriae was reported to have the highest number of cases in 2005, with the age group being mostly children below the age of 10. Different strains of Shigella have been seen to become resistant to many different medicines. This bacteria accounts for high rates of mortality and morbidity in developing countries, including Nepal. The researchers have also noted that the bacterium seems to become more prevalent during monsoon season and in males. Males become more affected because they are outside for greater amounts of time than females. Even with some strains of the bacteria being resistant, there are still treatments for other strains of Shigella.


This paper, even though it was about a study from about 15 years ago, has a lot of important information. It explains what the bacterium is and how one can get the bacteria. It also demonstrates how and why the bacterium is becoming resistant to a lot of treatments and medicines. Knowing about Shigella and the symptoms of the bacteria is important to understand because then people will be more likely to get treated. Also knowing why the bacteria is resistant will raise awareness to researchers and there can be more research conducted to understand more about the bacteria and how new drugs can be developed to treat the bacteria.

Shigella – A Brief

By Nicole Kraatz

Shigella is a type of bacteria that can be grouped into four different categories. One of the most common infections caused by the bacteria is Shigellosis. This disease infects the lining of the intestines and is transmitted via the oral-fecal route. Because of this, any water, food or fomites contaminated with shigella can cause symptoms of the disease to occur. The bacteria can also be spread via person to person. Shigella was first discovered in 1897 by Kiyoshi Shiga, a Japanese scientist. He discovered the bacteria after an outbreak of over 90,000 Japanese citizens were infected.

The incubation period for Shigellosis is anywhere from one to seven days, with the average onset of symptoms beginning around day three. The main symptom of the disease is diarrhea, which is normally bloody or filled with mucous. Since the disease affects the gastrointestinal system, other symptoms of the disease include stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting and high fever. In more severe cases, children under the age of two that are infected with the shigella bacteria and experience high fever may result in convulsions or seizures. However, not all people infected with the disease will show symptoms but it is still possible for those that are asymptomatic to spread the disease to others. Those most vulnerable to Shigellosis include people in developing countries were sanitation and sewage systems are poor and for travelers visiting those countries.

In order to treat many cases of Shigellosis, patients need to rehydrate and replace electrolytes lost due to constant diarrhea. Some cases may be resolved within four to seven days without treatment. However, those with more severe cases may need to replace electrolytes intravenously. Others may cure themselves by drinking plenty of fluids. Antibiotics may also be given to shorten the life of the bacteria in the body’s system. Currently, there are no cures or vaccinations for Shigellosis, but prevention of the disease include hand washing, clean drinking water and sewage systems.

bottom of page