Foodborne Illnesses / Shigella /

The Economic Impact of Shigella Infections

Shigella causes nearly a billion dollars in medical costs and lost productivity every year.

The USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) published its first comprehensive cost estimates for 16 foodborne bacterial pathogens in 1989. Five years later, it was estimated that the medical costs and productivity losses that Shigella infections caused each year ran from $907 million to over $1 billion, based on an estimate of 2.1 million cases and between 120-360 deaths. The average length of a related hospital stay was 4.6 days, with a cost of $16,888.

Using a different kind of economic analysis, this same 1996 study estimated that the annual cost of Shigella infections was $63 million, while the average cost of each confirmed and treated infection was $390; however, these estimates were based on significantly lower (and outdated) incidence and death rates. Most recent estimates are all much higher. For example, a study published in 2010 estimated the cost per case (in 2009 dollars) for a treated Shigella infection to be $7,092, with an estimate of 96,686 cases and 1,227 deaths per year, and a total cost to U.S. residents of $686 million.

The most recent report on the economic burden of foodborne illness summarized the following about Shigella:

Shigella ranks 10th among the 15 pathogens included in this report both in terms of total and per case economic burden. It imposes an estimated $138 million in economic burden in a typical year: 63 percent of this burden ($87 million) is due to deaths, 28 percent ($39 million) to hospitalizations, and 9 percent ($13 million) to non-hospitalized cases.