It’s very likely that you may not have heard about the outbreak in Kansas City. But due to the significant numbers and the fact that Public Health officials are seeing an unusual pattern of resistance I thought I would share.
Shigellosis is an infection caused by a family of bacteria known as Shigella. Shigella is frequently found in water polluted with human feces, and is transmitted via the fecal-oral route (e.g. you’re eating poop) directly from person-to-person and often associated with causing outbreaks in the child care settings where there is poor hygiene among children. Symptoms generally include diarrhea, abdominal cramping, nausea, vomiting, and fever. As a bacterial infection, it can be treated by antibiotics although often times people can be asymptomatic and pass the infection on to others without knowing.
Public Health officials from Kansas City Missouri do not know the source of their current outbreak, but they do know that they are seeing unprecedented numbers which have mostly struck children in daycare and elementary schools. From January 1 to July 1 of this year, there were only 16 cases, but in the last 2 months there have been 134 identified cases – 15 times the yearly average!
Health officials are urging people in the Kansas City area to wash their hands properly with soap and warm water (plain soap is just fine!) to prevent the spread of the illness. It’s also important to use hand driers or disposable paper towels to dry hands rather than hand towels. Because it does not take very many organisms of Shigella to become sick, bacteria left behind on the hand towel can in fact lead to transmission and infection of the next unsuspecting person who is washing his or her hands.
With luck I hope the source of the transmission is found to avoid more cases. In the meantime....I’ve been gone for a week, I’m going to go run around the house and change out our hand towels, dish towels, dish cloths.....I’m not saying we have Shigella. I’m saying there have only been two males in the house and you just never know what may be lurking on them after a week!