Shigellosis risk factors

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1] Associate Editor(s)-In-Chief: Yazan Daaboul; Serge Korjian


All individuals are at risk of developing shigellosis. Individuals at high risk of developing shigellosis or complications of shigellosis are young children between the age of 2 to 5, elderly individuals, and individuals who engage in anal sexual intercourse, HIV-positive individuals, and travelers to developing countries in regions of poor sanitation.

Risk Factors

Poor Sanitation

  • Individuals living in regions of poor sanitation with inadequate supply of clean water are at risk of developing shigellosis.

Young Children

  • The majority of shigellosis cases are reported in childcare/school settings or among families with small children.[1]
  • Children between the age of 2 to 5 are most susceptible to shigellosis infection and to death associated with the infection.

Anal Sexual Intercourse

  • Individuals who engage in anal sexual intercourse are at risk of developing shigellosis.[1]
  • Shigella is transmitted via the fecal-oral route. Individuals who engage with anal sexual intercourse may be exposed to fecal residue.[1]

Immunocompromised Individuals

  • HIV-positive patients and patients with advanced cancers may develop severe and prolonged forms of shigellosis and are at high risk of developing bacteremia.[1]


  • Individuals with malnutrition may develop severe forms of shigellosis.


  • Individuals who travel to developing countries are at risk of shigellosis following ingestion of contaminated food and water.[1]
  • Swimming in regions with poor sanitation during travel further increases the risk of developing shigellosis.


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