Grand Forks Herald (North Dakota)
North Dakota’s state health department has confirmed 13 shigellosis cases in Rolette County, the first cluster of cases the state has seen for a few years, officials said.
“This does not happen very often at all,” said state epidemiologist Julie Goplin.
But, when it does, it can infect an entire community, she said.
“It becomes community wide if the public isn’t taking special care, then it can last for months,” she said.
That special care is just common sense for most adults – it’s washing hands.
But, the disease is most common among young children, Goplin said. In fact, when there’s an infection at a day care, it quickly spreads throughout the community because there’s a lot of changing diapers there.
The Shigella sonnei bacteria, which can be found in the stools of infected people, are spread when someone eats or drinks food or water contaminated by direct or indirect contact with the fecal material of an infected person.
Most people who develop shigellosis get diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps a day or two after they come into contact with the bacteria. The diarrhea may be bloody. For severe cases, antibiotics may be prescribed.
The state health department has not determined a common source for the infections in Rolette County, though they have tested an area lake, Lake Upsilon, for human sewage. The lake came back negative for human waste on July 20, Goplin said. Even when someone is not showing any symptoms, they still may carry the bacteria. The public just needs to remember to “always wash hands,” Goplin said.