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Published On: Sat, Nov 2nd, 2013

North Carolina: Shigella outbreak sickens dozens in Cabarrus County

A Shigella outbreak has been declared in Cabarrus County, North Carolina as the number of people reporting symptoms of shigellosis is rising quickly, according to a Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) news release.

The colonial morphology displayed by a Shigella species bacteria cultivated on a Hektoen enteric (HE) agar surface Image/CDC

The colonial morphology displayed by a Shigella species bacteria cultivated on a Hektoen enteric (HE) agar surface
Image/CDC

Health officials say there are 64 people who report symptoms and of those, 21 are confirmed with shigellosis. The non-confirmed cases (43 people) have symptoms, but lack a lab test confirming a positive or negative diagnosis.

The CHA is advising people to stay at home if they are sick. “We appreciate the community’s help in curbing the spread of Shigella. Awareness is critical. Everyone needs to wash their hands with soap and water since hand sanitizers don’t work in killing the bacteria. Be vigilant in washing before eating and after using the bathroom. Most important of all is to stay at home if you have these symptoms.

“Keep your children at home if they are sick. Call your healthcare provider and ask for a stool sample to confirm if it is Shigella. We have nurses in the public schools sending children home with symptoms to aid in keeping everyone healthy,” says Suzanne Knight, Clinical Services Director.

Shigellosis is an acute bacterial disease of the intestines caused by several species of the bacterium, Shigella. It is typified by loose stools, frequently containing blood and mucus (dysentery), accompanied by fever, vomiting, cramps and occasionally toxemia.

It can cause bacillary dysentery because of the invasive ability of the organism that may result ulcerations and abscesses of the intestines.

It rarely spreads to the bloodstream.

More severe complications may include convulsions in children, Reiter’s syndrome and hemolytic uremic syndrome depending on the species of Shigella implicated.

This diarrheal disease is found worldwide with the vast majority of cases and deaths being in children. Outbreaks usually occur where there are crowded conditions and where personal hygiene is poor: prisons, day care centers and refugee camps are three examples.

It is transmitted primarily by fecal-oral person to person means. It can also occur through contaminated food or water. Those primarily responsible for transmission are people that fail to wash their hands thoroughly after defecation.

Because shigella is resistant to gastric acid, a person can be infected with as little as 10 organisms.

After being infected, symptoms usually appear 1-3 days later. It can be transmitted during the acute phase of infection until approximately four weeks after illness when the organism is no longer present in the feces. Asymptomatic carriers can also infect others.

Diagnosis is confirmed through bacteriological culture of feces. Treatment of shigellosis may include fluid and electrolyte replacement if there are signs of dehydration.

Antibiotics can shorten the course of infection, the severity of illness and the period of time a person may excrete the pathogen. Because of some antibiotic resistance, an antibiotic susceptibility test should be performed to determine which antibiotic would be effective.

The CDC has six simple steps to help prevent and avoid this uncomfortable, inconvenient and occasionally serious illness.

  • Wash hands with soap carefully and frequently, especially after going to the bathroom, after changing diapers, and before preparing foods or beverages.
  • Dispose of soiled diapers properly
  • Disinfect diaper changing areas after using them.
  • Keep children with diarrhea out of child care settings.
  • Supervise hand washing of toddlers and small children after they use the toilet.
  • Do not prepare food for others while ill with diarrhea

For more infectious disease news and information, visit and “like” the Infectious Disease News Facebook page

 

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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