Scores of cases of shigellosis have been reported in the metro Kansas City area in the past couple weeks as the gastrointestinal outbreak shows no sign of slowing. According to a Fox 4 news report, 564 reported cases of shigella have been reported in the metro area in 2015.
“And that’s probably only the tip of the iceberg,” said Dr. Rex Archer, health department director.
Archer is stressing handwashing techniques to prevent the spread of shigella…and other infectious diseases–The number is still climbing. The bacteria enter through the mouth off of food or your hands. When food is passed around, “Everybody is touching that serving spoon so everybody needs to wash their hands before they sit down to the meal or one person could be infecting everybody.”
Shigellosis is spread from person-to-person through the fecal-oral route. The bacteria can be transferred easily among children because of their poor hand washing habits and tendency to put things in their mouths. People can also become infected by consuming food or drinks prepared by an infected person or handling or cleaning up feces.
Because Shigella is resistant to gastric acid, a person can get infected with as little as 10 organisms.
Symptoms usually begin 24 to 72 hours after exposure and last about four to seven days without treatment; however, severe infections may require antibiotics.
The CDC offers the following recommendations for preventing the spread of Shigella: 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 handwashing of toddlers and small children after they use the toilet; Do not prepare food for others while ill with diarrhea and avoid swallowing water fromponds, lakes, or untreated pools.
Every year, about 14,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).