Background: Shanghai fever, a community-acquired enteric illness associated with sepsis caused by Pseudomonas aeruginosa, was first described in 1918. The understanding of Shanghai fever is incomplete. Objective: To delineate the clinical features and to examine the host and microbial factors associated with Shanghai fever. Methods: We prospectively enrolled 27 consecutive previously healthy children with community-acquired P aeruginosa enteritis and sepsis between July 2003 and June 2012. An immunological investigation, including measurement of serum immunoglobulin levels and lymphocyte subpopulations, was performed. The clonal relationship of bacterial isolates was determined by multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and the virulence of isolates was measured using cellular and animal models. Results: The median age of the patients was 7 months; 24 (89%) were aged <1 year. The most common clinical manifestations were fever (100%), diarrhoea (96%) and shock (81%). Leucopenia, thrombocytopenia, high C-reactive protein levels, coagulopathy and hypoalbuminaemia were the key laboratory findings. Necrotising enteritis with or without bowel perforation, ecthyma gangrenosum and seizures were main complications. The death rate was 15%. No common primary immune deficiency was identified. MLST genotypes indicated that isolates from Shanghai fever were non-clonal, but they shared similar phenotypes which were invariably cytotoxic, invasive and adhesive in cellular experiments and caused prolonged gut colonisation and more death than respiratory and laboratory control strains in mice. Conclusions: Shanghai fever is a sporadic community-acquired disease of previously healthy infants that manifests as sepsis associated with P aeruginosa enteric disease. Both host and microbial factors play a role in pathogenesis.
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