Differences Between Salmonella & Shigella

Salmonella and Shigella bacteria are two of the many families of germs that can cause diarrheal disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 40,000 U.S. cases of Salmonella infection are reported every year, while Shigella accounts for 14,000 reported cases.

  1. Types

    • There are about 2,500 subtypes (serotypes) of Salmonella, and 40 subtypes of Shigella. Salmonella sometimes spreads from the intestine to the bloodstream (bacteremia), while Shigella usually doesn't. Bacteremia makes Salmonella more potentially life-threatening than Shigella.


    • Salmonella infection causes salmonellosis, while Shigella infection causes shigellosis. In rare cases, the body's reaction to Shigella or Salmonella infection causes post-infectious arthritis, which can last for months or years after recovery.

    Signs & Symptoms

    • Salmonella and Shigella infections both cause diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. However, Salmonella mainly attacks the small intestine, while Shigella usually invades the large intestine. A key difference is that Shigella causes bloody diarrhea, while Salmonella does not.

    Contamination Modes

    • Shigella infection is spread mainly through contaminated human stools, but also through flies and contaminated food and water. People get Salmonella mostly through contaminated food, but also through contact with pets' contaminated feces.


    • In most cases, salmonellosis and shigellosis resolve within a week, with oral fluids. Antibiotics and intravenous fluids can help in severe cases, but some Salmonella and Shigella bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics.


    • Salmonella and Shigella infections can be prevented by proper sewage disposal, proper handling and cooking of food, good personal hygiene, and a safe water supply.

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  • eMedicine
  • "Lippincott's Illustrated Reviews: Microbiology;" Richard Harvey, Ph.D., and Pamela Champe, Ph.D.; 2007


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