In a follow-up to a report Tuesday on the Shigellosis outbreak reported in the Genesee County/Flint, MI area, Michigan health officials now report 85 confirmed and probable Shigella cases in 2016 to date. This is up from 20 cases in 2015 and four cases in 2014.

Image/Facebook (cropped)
Image/Facebook (cropped)

Why the spike in cases in Genesee County? Health officials are not sure. “We don’t know the exact reason” for the recent spike in cases, said Dr. Gary Johnson, medical director at the Genesee County Health Department. “There isn’t a particular reason why.”

“We do know that more than one half of the Genesee County shigellosis cases have been in Flint,” said Jennifer Eisner, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Neighboring county, Saginaw, has seen Michigan’s second most Shigellosis cases with 47.

“The most common mode of transmission of shigella bacterium is the fecal/oral route, usually from person to person or person to food. People experiencing symptoms of shigellosis, especially diarrhea, should wash their hands diligently, focusing on their fingertips and if possible, should not prepare food for other people. Also, healthy people need to protect themselves by washing their hands often and keeping their fingers out of their mouths. Handwashing is key to stopping the spread of many communicable diseases, including the highly infectious Shigella bacteria.” — Genesee County Health Department, Environmental Health Director, Jim Henry