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NAME: Plesiomonas shigelloides

SYNONYM OR CROSS REFERENCE: Plesiomonas diarrhea, Plesiomonas infection Formerly: C 27, Escherichia, Pseudomonas shigelloides, Pseudomonas michigani, Aeromonas shigelloides, Fergusonia, Vibrio shigelloides.

CHARACTERISTICS: Plesiomonas shigelloides is a species of gram-negative, rod-shaped bacteria Footnote 1. They are generally 0.3-1.0 µm in width, 0.6-6.0 µm in length, motile with polar flagella, non-spore-producing, and facultatively anaerobic Footnote 2-Footnote 5. Plesiomonas shigelloides was formerly classified in the Vibrionaceae family, but is now a part of the Enterobacteriaceae family Footnote 2. They are able to grow at salt concentrations of 0-5%, at a pH of 4.0-8.0, and at temperatures of 8-44oC Footnote 1, Footnote 5.


PATHOGENICITY/TOXICITY: May result in gastroenteritis or extraintestinal infections. Clinical symptoms of gastroenteritis include fever, secretory or dysenteric diarrhea, abdominal pain, vomiting, nausea, chills, arthralgia, and headache Footnote 1, Footnote 2, Footnote 5. Symptoms usually resolve spontaneously within two weeks but can last months Footnote 5, Footnote 6. Asymptomatic cases are possible, but very rare Footnote 1. Extraintestinal infections are less common; however, individuals who are elderly, immunocompromised, or have underlying diseases are at higher risk Footnote 7. Extraintestinal infections include septicaemia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, cellulitis, septic arthritis, endophthalmitis, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, and acute cholecystitis Footnote 1, Footnote 8, Footnote 9. Systemic infection, especially septicaemia, is very serious and has a high mortality rate Footnote 7.

EPIDEMIOLOGY: Plesiomonas shigelloides has a worldwide distribution, but is more common in tropical and sub-tropical areas Footnote 2. The peak seasons for infection are summer and autumn Footnote 1.

HOST RANGE:Humans, amphibians, birds, monkeys, polecats, reptiles, cats, cows, dogs, goats, pigs, sheep, and aquatic animals such as: fishes, crabs, prawns, mussels, and oysters Footnote 2, Footnote 10.


MODE OF TRANSMISSION: Plesiomonas shigelloides can be transmitted through the fecal-oral route, through the consumption of infected seafood (especially oysters), contaminated water and contaminated vegetables, and through exposure to amphibians and reptiles Footnote 2, Footnote 6, Footnote 11.

INCUBATION PERIOD: Usually under 48 hours Footnote 7.

COMMUNICABILITY: Transmittable through the fecal-oral route between humans Footnote 2, Footnote 12. Unsanitary conditions elevate the frequency of infections Footnote 4.


RESERVOIR: The primary reservoirs of Plesiomonas shigelloides are aquatic environments, including freshwater, estuarine water, and seawater Footnote 2. Other reservoirs include soil, and animals Footnote 1, Footnote 12.

ZOONOSIS: Yes, by contact with fish, reptiles, and amphibians Footnote 11.



DRUG SUSCEPTIBILITY: Susceptible to cephalosporins, quinolones, carbapenems, and Sulfamethoxazole-Trimethoprim (SXT) Footnote 5, Footnote 7.

DRUG RESISTANCE: Resistance against ampicillin, chloramphenicol, carbenicillin, piperacillin, ticarcillin has been documented Footnote 5, Footnote 12. The bacterium is also variably resistant to aminoglycosides, cotrimoxazole, and tetracycline Footnote 5, Footnote 12.

SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DISINFECTANTS: Susceptible to 1% sodium hypochlorite, 70% ethanol, 3% glutaraldehyde, iodines, phenolics, and formaldehyde Footnote 13-Footnote 17.

PHYSICAL INACTIVATION: Inactivated by a pH of 4 after 60 minutes, pH of 2 after 15 minutes Footnote 18. Sensitive to moist heat (121oC for at least 15 minutes), and dry heat (160-170oC for at least 1 hour) Footnote 19.

SURVIVAL OUTSIDE HOST: Plesiomonas shigelloides does not survive well outside of hosts or cultured media Footnote 5. It may survive in waters that freeze for long periods of the year Footnote 20.


SURVEILLANCE: Monitor for symptoms. Aeromonas spp. and Plesiomonas shigelloides specimens can be differentiated by Moeller’s lysine, ornithine, and arginine tests, and by fermentation of m-inositol Footnote 5.

Note: All diagnostic methods are not necessarily available in all countries.

FIRST AID/TREATMENT: Plesiomonas shigelloides is usually self-resolving and does not require treatment. Electrolyte and fluid replacement can be applied Footnote 21. Antibiotic therapy should be used for chronic or more serious infection such as: severe dysenteric or chronic intestinal infections as well as extraintestinal infections. The usual course of treatment is fluoroquinolones and trimethoprim, although carbapenems are also frequently used Footnote 10.





SOURCE/SPECIMENS: Faeces, blood, CSF, wounds, respiratory tract, urine Footnote 4, Footnote 18, Footnote 22.

PRIMARY HAZARDS: Accidental parenteral inoculation, contact with infected animals and faeces.




CONTAINMENT REQUIREMENTS: Containment Level 2 facilities, equipment, and operational practices for work involving infectious or potentially infectious materials, animals, or cultures.

PROTECTIVE CLOTHING: Lab coat. Gloves when direct skin contact with infected materials or animals is unavoidable. Eye protection must be used where there is a known or potential risk of exposure to splashes Footnote 23.

OTHER PRECAUTIONS: All procedures that may produce aerosols, or involve high concentrations or large volumes should be conducted in a biological safety cabinet (BSC). The use of needles, syringes, and other sharp objects should be strictly limited. Additional precautions should be considered with work involving animals or large scale activities Footnote 23.


SPILLS: Allow aerosols to settle and, wearing protective clothing, gently cover spill with paper towels and apply an appropriate disinfectant, starting at the perimeter and working towards the centre. Allow sufficient contact time before clean up.

DISPOSAL: Decontaminate all wastes that contain or have come in contact with the infectious organism before disposing by autoclave, chemical disinfection, gamma irradiation, or incineration.

STORAGE: The infectious agent should be stored in leak-proof containers that are appropriately labelled.


REGULATORY INFORMATION: The import, transport, and use of pathogens in Canada is regulated under many regulatory bodies, including the Public Health Agency of Canada, Health Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Environment Canada, and Transport Canada. Users are responsible for ensuring they are compliant with all relevant acts, regulations, guidelines, and standards.

UPDATED: December 2011

PREPARED BY: Pathogen Regulation Directorate, Public Health Agency of Canada

Although the information, opinions and recommendations contained in this Pathogen Safety Data Sheet are compiled from sources believed to be reliable, we accept no responsibility for the accuracy, sufficiency, or reliability or for any loss or injury resulting from the use of the information. Newly discovered hazards are frequent and this information may not be completely up to date.

Copyright ©
Public Health Agency of Canada, 2011


Footnote 1
Tseng, H. K., Liu, C. P., Li, W. C., Su, S. C., & Lee, C. M. (2002). Characteristics of Plesiomonas shigelloides infection in Taiwan. Journal of Microbiology, Immunology, and Infection = Wei Mian Yu Gan Ran Za Zhi, 35(1), 47-52.
Footnote 2
Ciznar, I., González-Rey, C., Krovacek, K., & Hostacka, A. (2006). Plesiomonas shigelloides. Food-Borne Pathogens: Methods and Protocols, , 73.
Footnote 3
Abbott, S. L., Kokka, R. P., & Janda, J. M. (1991). Laboratory investigations on the low pathogenic potential of Plesiomonas shigelloides. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 29(1), 148.
Footnote 4
Niedziela, T., Lukasiewicz, J., Jachymek, W., Dzieciatkowska, M., Lugowski, C., & Kenne, L. (2002). Core oligosaccharides of Plesiomonas shigelloides O54:H2 (strain CNCTC 113/92): structural and serological analysis of the lipopolysaccharide core region, the O-antigen biological repeating unit, and the linkage between them. The Journal of Biological Chemistry, 277(14), 11653-11663. doi:10.1074/jbc.M111885200
Footnote 5
Murray, P. R., Baron, E. J., Jorgensen, J. H., Landry, M. L., Pfaller, M. A., & Yolken, R. H. (Eds.). (2003). Manual of Clinical Microbiology (8th ed.). Herdon, VA, United States of America: American Society for Microbiology.
Footnote 6
Keating, J. P. (2005). Chronic diarrhea. Pediatrics in Review, 26(1), 5.
Footnote 7
Wong, T., Tsui, H., So, M., Lai, J., Tse, C., & Ng, T. (2003). Plesiomonas shigelloides infection in Hong Kong: retrospective study of 167 laboratory-confirmed cases. Hong Kong Med J, 6, 375-380.
Footnote 8
Hernandez, P., & Rodriguez de Garcia, R. (1997). Prevalence of Plesiomonas shigelloides in surface water. [Prevalencia de Plesiomonas shigelloides en agua de superficie] Archivos Latinoamericanos De Nutricion, 47(1), 47-49.
Footnote 9
Stock, I., & Wiedemann, B. (2001). Natural antimicrobial susceptibilities of Plesiomonas shigelloides strains. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, 48(6), 803.
Footnote 10
Stock, I. (2004). Plesiomonas shigelloides: an emerging pathogen with unusual properties. Reviews in Medical Microbiology.15, 129-139.
Footnote 11
KÖLLE, P., & HOFFMANN, R. (1998). Zoonoses from reptiles, amphibians and fishes.
Footnote 12
Schneider, F., Lang, N., Reibke, R., Michaely, H. J., Hiddemann, W., & Ostermann, H. (2009). Plesiomonas shigelloides pneumonia. Medecine Et Maladies Infectieuses, 39(6), 397-400. doi:10.1016/j.medmal.2008.11.010
Footnote 13
DePaola, A., Peeler, J. T., & Rodrick, G. E. (1995). Effect of oxytetracycline-medicated feed on antibiotic resistance of gram-negative bacteria in catfish ponds. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 61(6), 2335.
Footnote 14
Waterstrat, P. R., Dorr, B., Glahn, J. F., & Tobin, M. E. (1999). Recovery and viability of Edwardsiella ictaluri from great blue herons Ardea herodias fed E. ictaluri-infected channel catfish Ictalurus punctatus fingerlings. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 30(1), 115-122.
Footnote 15
Theodoropoulos, C., Wong, T. H., O'Brien, M., & Stenzel, D. (2001). Plesiomonas shigelloides enters polarized human intestinal Caco-2 cells in an in vitro model system. Infection and Immunity, 69(4), 2260.
Footnote 16
Falcón, R., Carbonell, G., Figueredo, P., Butiao, F., Saridakis, H., Pelayo, J., & Yano, T. (2003). Intracellular vacuolation induced by culture filtrates of Plesiomonas shigelloides isolated from environmental sources. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 95(2), 273-278.
Footnote 17
KIDA, N. (2009). Bactericidal and Sporicidal Activities of an Improved Iodide Formulation and Its Derivative. Biocontrol Science, 14(3), 113-118.
Footnote 18
Janda, J. M. (1987). Effect of acidity and antimicrobial agent-like compounds on viability of Plesiomonas shigelloides. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 25(7), 1213.
Footnote 19
Pflug, I. J., Holcomb, R. G., & Gomez, M. M. (2001). Principles of the Thermal Destruction of Microorganisms. In S. S. Block (Ed.), Disinfection, Sterilization, and Preservation (5th ed., pp. 79-129). Philadelphia, USA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Footnote 20
Jönsson, I., Monsen, T., & Wiström, J. (1997). A case of Plesiomonas shigelloides cellulitis and bacteraemia from northern Europe. Scandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases, 29(6), 631-632.
Footnote 21
O'Ryan, M., Prado, V., & Pickering, L. K. (2005). A millennium update on pediatric diarrheal illness in the developing world. Seminars in Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 16(2), 125-136.
Footnote 22
Cabrera, R. L. E., Castro, E. G., Ramirez, A. M. M., Llop, H. A., Llanes, C. R., Castaneda, E. N., Fernandez, A. A., & Bravo, F. L. (2007). Isolation and identification of species from the genera Aeromonas, Vibrio, and Plesiomonas from extraintestinal samples in Cuba]. [Aislamiento e identificacion de especies pertenecientes a los generos Aeromonas, Vibrio y Plesiomonas procedentes de muestras extra-intestinales en Cuba] Revista Chilena De Infectologia : Organo Oficial De La Sociedad Chilena De Infectologia, 24(3), 204-208. doi:/S0716-10182007000300005
Footnote 23
Public Health Agency of Canada. (2004). In Best M., Graham M. L., Leitner R., Ouellette M. and Ugwu K. (Eds.), Laboratory Biosafety Guidelines (3rd ed.). Canada: Public Health Agency of Canada.