Characterising the Shigella bacterium

Shigella is a Gram-negative bacterium of the Enterobacteriaceae family that is one of the leading causes of diarrhoeal disease in children under the age of five. We are investigating the disease-causing potential of the bacteria isolated from children admitted at the Kilifi County Hospital over the past two decades. We are studying the disease-causing potential of the isolates, the different circulating serotypes and antimicrobial resistance patterns.

We are also investigating whether there is an association between the virulence markers – molecules that add to the effectiveness of the bacteria – the symptoms that patients had when they presented to hospital, and other factors, such as geographical location. This will help us understand the bacteria circulating in the region and will guide vaccine development and disease management strategies.

We will also sequence the whole genome of the isolates to determine genetic relatedness, to determine whether there is evidence for transmission, outbreaks or geographic clustering of similar isolates.

Investigators : Anne Amulele, Claire Gordon, Michael Ooko, Sam Kariuki, Anthony Scott