The Barcelona actor, theater director and television presenter Àngel Llàcer was admitted to the Ruber clinic in Madrid after returning from his last trip to Vietnam infected by a dangerous bacteria called Shigella. A highly contagious pathology that is transmitted by ingesting food or water contaminated by the feces of an infected person or by direct contact with an infected person.

“It has been very heavy. I went to Vietnam on vacation and got poisoning. I was cured of the poisoning, but I came back from there and the bug has lived in me. Until it has reproduced in my intestine,” the actor explained about his condition. Symptoms include fever, sharp abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, or nausea. This organism usually infects the lining of the intestines, but can reproduce throughout the body. In severe cases, this bacteria can cause sepsis, a life-threatening condition.

The genus Shigella species, belonging to the family Enterobacteriaceae, is made up of gram-negative, non-sporulating and non-motile bacilli that are facultative aerobes. Species in this genus have a complex antigenic pattern and their classification is based on their somatic O antigens, many of which are common to other enteric bacilli, such as E. coli. 

There are four species: S. dysenteriae, S. flexneri, S. boydii and S. sonnei. Effects on human health Shigella spp. can cause serious intestinal diseases, including bacillary dysentery. Every year there are more than two million infections that cause around 600,000 deaths, especially in developing countries. 

Most Shigella infections occur in children under ten years of age. The incubation period for shigellosis is usually 24 to 72 hours. Ingestion of as few as 10 to 100 microorganisms can produce infection, an infective dose substantially lower than that of most other enteric bacteria. At the beginning of the disease, cramps, fever and watery diarrhea appear. 

All species can cause severe disease, but the disease caused by S. sonnei is generally relatively mild and self-limiting. In the case of S. dysenteriae, clinical manifestations can lead to the formation of ulcers with hemorrhagic diarrhea and a high concentration of neutrophils in the stool. 

These manifestations are related to the production of shiga toxin by the pathogenic microorganism. Species of the genus Shigella appear to be better adapted to human infection than most other pathogenic enteric bacteria.