Shigella

Background

There are four species of the Shigella bacteria that can cause shigella infection also known as shigellosis or bacillary dysentery. These are:

  • Shigella sonnei
  • Shigella flexneri
  • Shigella boydii
  • Shigella dysenteriae

The most common of these four species in Scotland is Shigella sonnei.

Shigella boydii and Shigella dysenteriae are not indigenous to the UK and occur as travel associated infections. Shigella sonnei and Shigella flexneri can be acquired in the UK, although they can also be associated with overseas travel.

Infection with all four species can occur by person to person spread via faecal oral transmission. Infection can also be spread by food or water contaminated with human faeces.

Infection with Shigella sonnei and Shigella flexneri have also been associated with sexual transmission among men who have sex with men.

Infection with Shigella dysenteriae is more severe than with the other species of Shigella.

Information about the symptoms and managing Shigella infection is available on the NHS Inform website.

Guidance

Information on the safe handling of food is available on the Food Standards Scotland website.

The chance of infection can be reduced during travel by following advice on food and water precautions on the fitfortravel website.

For all infection prevention and control guidance visit the A-Z ​pathogens section of the National Infection and Prevention Control Manual.

Data and surveillance

Surveillance reports

Data tables

Shigella, Scotland: annual totals as at 7 January 2022
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019 2020*
Shigella (total) 134 94 85 91 113 87 64 115 105 38
Shigella boydii 7 3 2 4 8 3 2 2 4 1
Shigella dysenteriae 4 4 0 1 2 2 0 1 1 0
Shigella flexneri 34 24 20 34 30 37 23 32 26 19
Shigella sonnei 89 63 62 48 71 44 38 77 71 16
Shigella species 0 0 1 4 2 1 1 3 3 2

 

* 2020 data remains provisional

Data source: Public Health Scotland