Shigellosis outbreak linked to European Rainbow Gathering in Poland


Fourteen cases of Shigella sonnei have been reported among participants of a Rainbow Gathering in the south-east of Poland.

Between 5 and 10 August 2018, 45 participants presented with gastroenteritis symptoms, 14 of these tested positive for Shigella sonnei. The event took place between 13 July and 11 August and so it is likely that most participants, which come from many countries within the EU, have now left the area.

It is not the first time that Rainbow events are associated with disease outbreaks. In August 2017, an outbreak of typhoid fever was reported during a European Rainbow Gathering in Italy.

Shigellosis is a gastrointestinal bacterial infection. Symptoms include diarrhoea, which is sometimes bloody, abdominal pain and cramps, and fever. Nausea and/or vomiting, loss of appetite, headache or malaise can also occur. Clinicians should be aware of shigellosis as a potential diagnosis in persons who have returned from these gatherings and present symptoms compatible with the disease.

The most important measures to prevent gastrointestinal illnesses are to ensure good sanitation, to drink safe water (chlorinated/boiled/bottled) and wash hands regularly with water and soap. Food should be thoroughly cooked; fruits and vegetables should be washed with bottled or chlorinated water before peeling and consumption.

Rainbow events are temporary gatherings of people who come together in nature surroundings and remote forests.