Published: 06.10.05 Updated: 07.10.2005 09:06:23

Hans Blystad, Lars Blad, Johan Giesecke, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Sweden, the Steering Group of the project Building a Network for Infections Disease Surveillance in the Baltic Sea Region


Shigellosis is a notifiable disease in all the countries in the region.


The Nordic countries and Germany have for many years had low and stable incidence rates of shigellosis with very few domestically acquired cases. Poland has usually low incidence of shigellosis with occasionally indigenous small outbreaks.

In Northwest Russia and to some degree in the Baltic countries shigellosis has long been a major public health problem. This is partly caused by unsatisfactory hygienic and sanitary conditions. During the last few years, incidence rates have decreased slightly in the eastern part of the region.

High-risk groups

In the Nordic countries and Germany travellers to high endemic areas are most at risk for acquiring shigellosis. In Northwest Russia all ages are at risk with occasionally nosocomial transmission and outbreaks. Outbreaks in childcare centres still occur in Northwest Russia and in the Baltic countries.

Prevention strategies

Shigellosis is mainly prevented by implementing good hygienic and sanitary measures. In the eastern part of the region these preventive measures are important to prevent spread of the disease. Likewise, increased awareness of nosocomial infection control is an essential part of the preventive measures, and such projects are ongoing in the eastern part of the region. In the western part of the region most emphasis is placed on educating travellers to countries with high incidence of shigellosis on how to reduce the risk of acquiring the disease. Food handlers in the entire region are educated in food hygiene.