A shigella outbeak, linked to catering by Seattle-based Eric Gorbman Catering, is being investigated by Public Health — Seattle & King County officials. To date, 17 cases have been reported.
The investigation surrounds private parties at Temple Beth Am and Temple Beth Shalom in Seattle on March 3. The parties were catered by Eric Gorbman Catering with additional food items brought potluck style by attendees. One ill attendee is hospitalized.
Health officials are asking attendees to fill out a survey to assist in the investigation.
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.
More severe complications may include convulsions in children, Reiter’s syndrome and hemolytic uremic syndrome depending on the species of Shigella implicated.
It is transmitted primarily by fecal-oral person to person means. It can also occur through contaminated food or water. Those that are primarily responsible for transmission are those that fail to wash their hands thoroughly after defecation.
Because Shigella is resistant to gastric acid, a person can get infected with as little as 10 organisms.
After getting 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, a antibiotic susceptibility test should be performed to determine which antibiotic will be effective.
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