Kathy Mogel, Program Coordinator of the Onondaga County Health Department told Food Poisoning Bulletin that there are 20 confirmed cases of Shigella in that county. There are news reports that there are as many as 34 cases, but we’re reporting what the Health Department tells us. Ms. Mogel said that the age range of patients is from 2 to 84, with about 50% of the cases occurring in children under the age of 10.
The Department believes that person to person transmission, also called secondary transmission, is a “significant factor” in the outbreak. The Health Department is investigating the original source but has not pinpointed one as of June 27, 2012.
Shigella is a bacteria that is spread through eating contaminated food, drinking contaminated water, and person-to-person contact. The illness usually resolves in a few days, but some people become very ill and need to be hospitalized. About 300,000 cases of shigellosis occur every year in the United States. To avoid spreading the bacteria, follow food safety and hygiene rules carefully. Always wash your hands well with soap and water after using the bathroom and after changing diapers. Wash your hands frequently before preparing or serving food, while preparing food, and afterwards. Avoid cross-contamination by cleaning tools, utensils, cutting boards, and work surfaces. And supervise the hand washing of toddlers and small children after they use the bathroom and before they eat or drink.