Conventional disease surveillance for shigellosis in developing country settingsrelies on serotyping and low-resolution molecular typing, which fails to contextualise the evolutionary history of the genus. Here, we interrogated a collection of 1,804 Shigella whole genome sequences from organisms isolated in four continental Southeast Asian countries (Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia) over three decades to characterise the evolution of both S. flexneri and S. sonnei. We show that S. sonnei and each major S. flexneri serotype are comprised of genetically diverse populations, the majority of which were likely introduced into Southeast Asia in the 1970s-1990s. Intranational and regional dissemination allowed widespread propagation of both species across the region. Our data indicate that the epidemiology of S. sonnei and the major S. flexneri serotypes were characterised by frequent clonal replacement events, coinciding with changing susceptibility patterns against contemporaneous antimicrobials. We conclude that adaptation to antimicrobial pressure was pivotal to the recent evolutionary trajectory of Shigella in Southeast Asia.

  • This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

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