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Shigella infections in children: new insights.

Shigellosis , the acute enteric infection caused by bacteria of the genus Shigella , has a worldwide distribution with an estimated annual incidence of 164.7 million cases, of which 163.2 million occur in developing countries, and 1.1 million deaths. Sixty-nine percent of all episodes and 61 percent of all Shigella -related deaths involve children younger than 5 years old. In the United States, 10,000 to 15,000 cases of shigellosis are reported each year. Although usually confined to the colonic mucosa, shigellosis sometimes can cause extraintestinal complications. Recent publications have shed light on the clinical characteristics of Shigella -induced bacteremia, surgical complications, urogenital symptoms, and neurologic manifestations, and on the unique manifestations in the neonatal period. The mainstay of treatment of shigellosis in children is correction of the fluid and electrolyte loss, which often is achieved by the administration of oral rehydration solutions. Appropriate antibiotic therapy shortens the duration of both clinical symptoms and fecal excretion of the pathogen. However, the increasing antimicrobial resistance of shigellae worldwide constitutes a major problem. Regarding the pathophysiology of shigellosis and its complications, recent data not only elucidated the molecular mechanisms involved but also linked manifestations of disease to the interplay of bacterial virulence factors and host responses. The improved understanding of the pathophysiology is hoped to lead to innovative therapeutic approaches against shigellosis and new generations of vaccine candidates.

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