According the health officials, Kansas City may be facing a Shigella outbreak, as the number of confirmed cases has already reached 150 this year.
The Kansas City Health Department has revealed that normally just 10 cases of Shigella occur on a yearly basis. Therefore, it is alarming that in 2015 we have had 15 times more infections with this bacteria.
It is also worth nothing that between January 1 and July 1 just 16 patients were reported to suffer from this disease, whereas in the last two months 134 new instances were identified. The cause of the outbreak is unclear, but authorities report that this type of contagion occurs once in 5 years.
Shigella is a dangerous rod-shaped bacteria, closely linked to salmonella, and it causes shigellosis among humans. Following contamination, it usually manifests itself through dysentery (an inflammation of the intestine that produces severe diarrhea with blood).
In fact, Shigella is one of the main contributing factors of diarrhea worldwide, but it also has other symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, abdominal cramps, flatulence and painful bowel movements. Doctors warn that shigellosis may also lead to high fever (between 104 and 105 degrees Fahrenheit) and convulsions, when it affects young children.
These signs usually occur 2 to 4 days following contamination, and although normally they are present for several days, infections may continue for weeks if left untreated.
While all age categories can be affected with Schigella, such cases are much more frequent among children, with elementary schools and daycares being breeding grounds for the bacteria.
In order to prevent this disease, medical practitioners recommend regular and careful hand washing with soap and warm water, and cooking food thoroughly before consuming it. In addition, diapers should be disposed of correctly, and diaper changing areas should be properly sanitized.
This greatly diminishes the risk of developing the infection, which is usually passed through fecal-oral contamination. Doctors suggest also using paper towels after cleaning hands because regular cotton ones may capture bacteria, and just 7 to 10 organisms are enough to cause an infection.
Once the disease is contracted, it can be cured through antibiotic treatment, but culture testing is required in order to determine the antimicrobials that can destroy the bacteria.
“What is also concerning is that we are seeing three different strains that are resistant to certain antibiotics”, explained Tiffany Wilkinson, Acting Communicable Disease Prevention Division Manager.
As a result, health officials caution people who have acquired the disease to immediately contact their physician, especially if they provide health care or day care, or if they work as food handlers.
In addition, they recommend transparency in reporting Schigella cases, in order to diminish the extent of the outbreak. Schools and daycares should display vigilance in identifying such infections, and promptly inform parents regarding potential exposure to the bacteria.
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