Health officials in Ingham County say they’re making some progress in tracing the source of the Shigella outbreak. I t was declared on October 19th, when 3 cases of the contagious intestinal illness were confirmed at Lansing’s Willow Elementary.
The number of cases peaked Tuesday with 61 confirmed and 35 probable cases. B oth health and school leaders met to discuss their progress. While they do not know exactly what caused the outbreak,they say the research done so far says it was not from any of the food the schools served for lunch.
Dr. Dean Sienko: “Evaluating every food item, both with the kids that were sick and the kids that were not sick, we couldn’t find any association with the foods.”
Taco meat, vegetables and apple sauce were among 15 district foods listed for analysis by the department. Dr. Dean Sienko says, while they cannot rule out food entirely as a cause, they have no evidence to say it was a factor.
Dr. Dean Sienko: “We went after food rigorously, because being how Shigella is spread, it is something we really wanted to look at carefully.”
Shigella is spread through human contact. The department did test food handlers in the schools, and all tests were negative. However, Sienko says it’s important that people continue to wash their hands frequently, because of how highly contagious Shigella is.
Dr. Dean Sienko: “People need to continue to do good hand washing; particularly in the homes of people who are sick. If they don’t, it will spread.”
Seinko says the department is still plugging away in their work. They say they more factors are being examined.
Dr. Dean Sienko: “We don’t have something to hold on to. We will continue to investigate other possibilities.”
To date, the department has confirmed 66 cases of Shigella. The spike in infections was around October 11th. He says they continue to trace the source of the outbreak.