Public and Environmental Health officials in Humboldt County, California are working to contain local cases of the gastrointestinal illness Shigella bacteria, after three lab-confirmed cases and two more suspected cases infected Eureka residents during the past month.
The cases span multiple households, infecting school-age children and adults, including a person experiencing homelessness.
Officials believe the virus may have been spread through one or more Eureka laundromats, after an infected person washed contaminated clothing at the facility.
Environmental Health officials are working closely with the operators of the two laundromats, the Self-Serve Laundromat on Summer Street and Eureka Laundromat on Little Fairfield Street, to make sure their facilities are cleaned and disinfected properly.
Shigella bacteria are found in stool, and infection is spread by eating food or drinking liquids contaminated by an infected person, or when a person touches a contaminated surface or object and then touches their mouth or puts the object into their mouth. People infected with shigellosis typically experience a fever, abdominal cramps and diarrhea which may be bloody.
Onset of shigellosis symptoms usually occurs one to two days after exposure—but may take longer—and lasts around a week. Infected people can remain contagious up to six weeks after symptoms resolve.
Most people with shigellosis recover completely without severe complications. In rare cases Shigella may cause bloodstream infections, seizures, kidney failure or arthritis.