Volume 15, Number 3—March 2009
Genus of gram-negative bacteria in the family Enterobacteriaceae, named for Japanese bacteriologist Koyoshi Shiga (1871–1957). In 1897, Japan experienced a severe dysentery epidemic; >91,000 cases were reported, and the case-fatality rate was >20%. Dr Shiga isolated the etiologic agent from patient stool samples: a bacillus, later called Shigella dysenteriae. He went on to describe the toxins that the organism produces; one that causes serious complications during infections is now known as Shiga toxin.
Sources: Trofa AF, Ueno-Olsen H, Oiwa R, Yoshikawa M. Dr. Kiyoshi Shiga: discoverer of the dysentery bacillus. Clin Infect Dis. 1999;29:1303–6; Dorland’s illustrated medical dictionary, 31st edition. Philadelphia: Saunders; 2007.