Europe detects eight infections by Shigella bacteria in Spain

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MADRID – The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) has confirmed eight cases and is studying a further 22 possible infections by the Shigella sonnei bacteria in Spain.

Researchers link the Spanish cases of Shigellosis to an outbreak originating in the United Kingdom. Since the infections already affect 208 patients in ten European countries. In Spain all cases of Shigella infection concern men between the ages of 18 and 56 years old.

Shigella sonnei is a bacterium that infects the digestive system and can cause diarrhea. This and other symptoms are similar to gastroenteritis but are more contagious. Moreover, the disease is more common in developing countries and is transmitted through the fecal-oral route.

ECDC links the Shigellosis outbreak to risky sexual practices. The centre underlines that it has spread to men who have had sex with other men. In addition, the centre warns there is a “high” chance there will be more infections in Europe in the coming months. Consequently, this will mainly be the result of the lifting of restrictions against the spread of the coronavirus, once contacts and travel increase again.

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In addition, ECDC warns that the Shigella bacterium is resistant to treatment. Besides that, the European body explains that the disease usually has mild symptoms, except in people with a suppressed immune system.


Shigellosis (bacillary dysentery) is a serious intestinal infection and the Shigella bacteria causes it. This infection can cause fever, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. The bacteria can be transmitted from person to person. In the Netherlands, it usually concerns infections after a trip abroad or through sexual contact.

Symptoms of shigellosis

Shigellosis begins with fever and abdominal cramps, followed by frequent watery diarrhea. This diarrhea After a few days becomes slimy and may contain blood. Other symptoms include muscle aches, headaches, or short-term skin rashes. These complaints usually disappear after 5 to 10 days, sometimes with the help of antibiotics. Infection with Shigella bacteria does not always lead to symptoms.

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