Disparities in Incidence and Severity of Shigella Infections Among Children-Foodborne Diseases Active Surveillance Network (FoodNet), 2009-2018

J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. 2021 Aug 17;10(7):782-788. doi: 10.1093/jpids/piab045.


Background: Shigella infections are an important cause of diarrhea in young children and can result in severe complications. Disparities in Shigella infections are well documented among US adults. Our objective was to characterize disparities in incidence and severity of Shigella infections among US children.

Methods: We analyzed laboratory-diagnosed Shigella infections reported to FoodNet, an active, population-based surveillance system in 10 US sites, among children during 2009-2018. We calculated the incidence rate stratified by sex, age, race/ethnicity, Shigella species, and disease severity. Criteria for severe classification were hospitalization, bacteremia, or death. The odds of severe infection were calculated using logistic regression.

Results: During 2009-2018, 10 537 Shigella infections were reported in children and 1472 (14.0%) were severe. The incidence rate was 9.5 infections per 100 000 child-years and the incidence rate of severe infections was 1.3 per 100 000 child-years. Incidence was highest among children aged 1-4 years (19.5) and lowest among children aged 13-17 years (2.3); however, children aged 13-17 years had the greatest proportion of severe infections (21.2%). Incidence was highest among Black (16.2 total; 2.3 severe), Hispanic (13.1 total; 2.3 severe), and American Indian/Alaska Native (15.2 total; 2.5 severe) children. Infections caused by non-sonnei species had higher odds of severity than infections caused by Shigella sonnei (adjusted odds ratio 2.58; 95% confidence interval 2.12-3.14).

Conclusions: The incidence and severity of Shigella infections among US children vary by age, race/ethnicity, and Shigella species, warranting investigation of unique risk factors among pediatric subpopulations.

Keywords: Shigella; gastrointestinal infections; health disparities; pediatric; shigellosis.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dysentery, Bacillary* / epidemiology
  • Foodborne Diseases*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Shigella*
  • Watchful Waiting