October 19, 2018

Shigella Outbreak in Columbus Ohio Reaches Ten Year High

A Shigella outbreak in Columbus, Ohio has reached a ten year high, according to a press release from the Columbus Public Health Department. Dr. Teresa Long, Columbus Health Commissioner, said in a statement, “hand-washing and keeping children and adults home when they have diarrhea are the most critical steps to help stop this outbreak. We are seeing many of the cases at childcare centers and other places young children are in close contact during the day. Family members, childcare providers, and playmates are also at risk.” To date, 771 cases have been diagnosed and are under investigation.

Woman's Torso Food PoisoningThe symptoms of Shigella poisoning include nausea, vomiting, fever, and abdominal cramps. The bacteria mostly affects children under the age of five, but people of all ages can get sick. In some people, it can take months before bowel movements return to normal.¬†Antibiotics are sometimes needed in severe cases. ¬† Complications of a Shigella infection can include Reiter’s syndrome and hemolytic uremic syndrome.

The bacteria is most often spread person-to-person via the “oral-fecal” route. That means that someone passes infected feces on to another person via food, water, or direct contact. Outbreaks have occurred via swimming pools.

To limit this outbreak and prevent infection, the public must take these steps. Wash hands often, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers. Always wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food or drinks and before eating. Help children wash their hands after using the bathroom. Dispose of dirty diapers in a closed lid can. Disinfect diaper changing areas after each use. Keep anyone with diarrhea at home. Do not prepare food for others when you are sick. If you develop the symptoms of shigellosis, see a health care provider immediately.

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