Gut 63:736-743 doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2013-304786
  • Enteric infections
  • Original article

Shanghai fever: a distinct Pseudomonas aeruginosa enteric disease

Open Access
  1. Cheng-Hsun Chiu2
  1. 1Graduate Institute of Clinical Medical Sciences, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan
  2. 2Molecular Infectious Diseases Research Center, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan
  3. 3Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Chang Gung Children's Hospital, Chang Gung University College of Medicine, Taoyuan, Taiwan
  4. 4Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  5. 5Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Northwestern University, Chicago, Illinois, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Cheng-Hsun Chiu, Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Department of Pediatrics, Chang Gung Children's Hospital, 5 Fu-Hsin Street, Kweishan, Taoyuan 333, Taiwan; chchiu{at}
  • Received 4 March 2013
  • Revised 18 July 2013
  • Accepted 20 July 2013
  • Published Online First 13 August 2013


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.

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 3.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited and the use is non-commercial. See: