At least 150 cases of food poisoning has been reported in the Shihabieh area in Karak, Jordan, according to a Jordan Times report Monday. An unspecified number of  patients who presented with symptoms required hospitalization.

Amman Jordan
Jordan map/CIA

Laboratory analysis on the stool samples of the patients and from a local restaurant that serves hummus revealed the presence of Shigella.

“The ministry’s health team took precautions by closing the suspected restaurant on Saturday morning until the results of the samples taken from there are fully tested,”  head of the ministry’s communicable diseases department, Bashir Qasir tod reporters.

Shigella was ruled out in the systems providing water to the restaurant.

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

Karak lies 140 kilometres (87 mi) to the south of the capital of Amman, Jordan.

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