Shigella Infection

  • Gerald T. Keusch
  • David W. K. Acheson
Part of the Infectious Agents and Pathogenesis book series (IAPA)


Shigella dysenteriae type 1, the first Shigella species isolated, was discovered by Kiyoshi Shiga in 1896(1) in the course of an epidemic of especially severe dysentery in Japan, with nearly 100,000 cases and 30,000 deaths. Shiga not only isolated the same organism from many patients, but his report in 1898 documented that patients developed agglutinating antibodies during convalescence. The same organism was soon reported elsewhere in the world,(2,3) and over the next 40 years, three additional groups of related organisms were defined and ultimately taxonomically placed in the genus Shigella and named S. dysenteriae, S. flexneri, S. boydii, and S. sonnei to honor the lead workers, Shiga, Flexner, Boyd, and Sonne.(4) In the current era of molecular microbiology, however, it is not so clear that Shigella should be a distinct genus, because the organisms are so similar to E. coli that no distinction can be made on the basis of DNA composition, DNA—DNA hybridization, or genetic organization, and Shigella can be thought of as differentiated, highly (human) host-adapted pathogenic E. coli species. In more practical clinical microbiological terms, Shigella are distinct from nearly all E. coli by their inability to ferment lactose, a property used to select for suspect lactose-negative colonics on differential agars. Clinicians also immediately recognize the genus name Shigella as a pathogen when reported in cultures.


Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome Shiga Toxin Shigella Flexneri Toxic Megacolon Somatic Antigen 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gerald T. Keusch
    • 1
  • David W. K. Acheson
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Geographic Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Tupper Research InstituteNew England Medical CenterBostonUSA

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