Incidence, clinical implications and impact on public health of infections with Shigella spp. and entero-invasive Escherichia coli (EIEC): results of a multicenter cross-sectional study in the Netherlands during 2016-2017

IBESS working group, van den Beld, M. J. C., Warmelink, E., Friedrich, A. W., Reubsaet, F. A. G., Schipper, M., de Boer, R. F., Notermans, D. W., Petrignani, M. W. F., van Zanten, E., Rossen, J. W. A., Friesema, I. H. M. & Kooistra-Smid, A. M. D. M., 9-Dec-2019, In : BMC Infectious Diseases. 19, 1, 12 p., 1037.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Background: Shigella spp. and entero-invasive E. coli (EIEC) use the same invasive mechanism to cause diarrheal diseases. Public health regulations apply only to Shigella spp. infections, but are hampered by the lack of simple methods to distinguish them from EIEC. In the last decades, molecular methods for detecting Shigella spp. and EIEC were implemented in medical microbiological laboratories (MMLs). However, shigellosis cases identified with molecular techniques alone are not notifiable in most countries. Our study investigates the impact of EIEC versus Shigella spp. infections and molecular diagnosed shigellosis versus culture confirmed shigellosis for re-examination of the rationale for the current public health regulations.

Methods: In this multicenter cross-sectional study, fecal samples of patients suspected for gastro-enteritis, referred to 15 MMLs in the Netherlands, were screened by PCR for Shigella spp. or EIEC. Samples were cultured to discriminate between the two pathogens. We compared risk factors, symptoms, severity of disease, secondary infections and socio-economic consequences for (i) culture-confirmed Shigella spp. versus culture-confirmed EIEC cases (ii) culture positive versus PCR positive only shigellosis cases.

Results: In 2016-2017, 777 PCR positive fecal samples with patient data were included, 254 of these were culture-confirmed shigellosis cases and 32 were culture-confirmed EIEC cases. EIEC cases were more likely to report ingestion of contaminated food and were less likely to be men who have sex with men (MSM). Both pathogens were shown to cause serious disease although differences in specific symptoms were observed. Culture-negative but PCR positive cases were more likely report travel or ingestion of contaminated food and were less likely to be MSM than culture-positive cases. Culture-negative cases were more likely to suffer from multiple symptoms. No differences in degree of secondary infections were observed between Shigella spp. and EIEC, and culture-negative and culture-positive cases.

Conclusions: No convincing evidence was found to support the current guidelines that employs different measures based on species or detection method. Therefore, culture and molecular detection methods for Shigella spp. and EIEC should be considered equivalent for case definition and public health regulations regarding shigellosis. Differences were found regarding risks factors, indicating that different prevention strategies may be required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1037
Number of pages12
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9-Dec-2019


  • Shigella, Shigellosis, Entero-invasive Escherichia coli, EIEC, Clinical implications, Public health, Incidence, Infectious disease control, Guidelines, Case definition, REAL-TIME PCR, DIARRHEA, GASTROENTERITIS, DIFFERENTIATION, IDENTIFICATION, PATHOGENS, OUTBREAK, DISEASE

Download statistics

No data available

ID: 108563617