Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program

Shigellosis summary

Shigellosis is a gastrointestinal illness caused by Shigella bacteria. Shigellosis most often causes cramping, fever and severe diarrhea. The diarrhea is often bloody. Shigella is highly infectious and can be easily passed from one person to another through the fecal-oral route. The increased potential for outbreaks makes reporting and case investigation a public health priority.

In 2007, a total of fourteen cases, ten confirmed cases and four probable cases (not laboratory confirmed but clinically compatible and epidemiologically related), were reported to the Maine CDC. This represents a case rate of 1.1 per 100,000 population. Eight of the reported cases (57%) were females and six (43%) were males. Eight of the cases had foreign travel in South America or the Caribbean. One case was infected in another state.

The median age of cases was 20.5 years, with a range of 1 to 61 years. Only one case attended child care. None of these cases were food service workers. One healthcare worker became infected while processing a stool specimen in a laboratory.

There were two clusters of cases investigated in Maine in 2007. The first included two cases in a family who traveled to Florida and the health care worker, mentioned above, who was subsequently, occupationally exposed. The second was a travel related cluster in a family who had visited Honduras.

Shigella incidence remains relatively low in Maine and below the national rates (see graph). The incidence in 2007 was consistent with the 5-year median. Cases in childcare, healthcare, or food handling are restricted from work until infection clears and there is no evidence of Shigella in stool specimens.