Epidemiology and Infection

Original Papers

Shigella, Shiga-toxin

Foodborne outbreaks of shigellosis in the USA, 1998–2008

B. L. NYGRENa1 c1, K. A. SCHILLINGa1, E. M. BLANTONa1, B. J. SILKa1, D. J. COLEa1 and E. D. MINTZa1

a1 Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA


We examined reported outbreaks of foodborne shigellosis in the USA from 1998 to 2008 and summarized demographic and epidemiological characteristics of 120 confirmed outbreaks resulting in 6208 illnesses. Most reported foodborne shigellosis outbreaks (n = 70, 58%) and outbreak-associated illnesses (n = 3383, 54%) were restaurant-associated. The largest outbreaks were associated with commercially prepared foods distributed in multiple states and foods prepared in institutional settings. Foods commonly consumed raw were implicated in 29 (24%) outbreaks and infected food handlers in 28 (23%) outbreaks. Most outbreaks (n = 86, 72%) were caused by Shigella sonnei. Targeted efforts to reduce contamination during food handling at multiple points in the food processing and distribution system, including food preparation in restaurants and institutional settings, could prevent many foodborne disease outbreaks and outbreak-related illnesses including those due to Shigella.

(Received July 19 2011)

(Revised December 30 2011)

(Accepted February 01 2012)

(Online publication February 24 2012)

Key words

  • Food safety;
  • foodborne infections;
  • outbreaks;
  • Shigella ;
  • surveillance


c1 Author for correspondence: Mr B. L. Nygren, Waterborne Diseases Prevention Branch, Division of Foodborne, Waterborne and Environmental Diseases, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1600 Clifton Rd, MS-A38, Atlanta, GA, USA. (Email: ghz8@cdc.gov)