Alan Bavley of the The Kansas City Star reports on the growing outbreak of shigella in the greater Kansas City area:
The Kansas City area is going through an outbreak of a nasty and very contagious diarrheal disease called shigellosis, and scrupulous hand hygiene is the best way to keep from getting or spreading it. More than 285 cases have been reported in the metropolitan area so far this year. The area typically averages just 10 to 15 a year. “Some people don’t wash their hands quite as well as they should,” said Jeff Hershberger of the Kansas City Health Department. “We want people to be really careful. It takes so few of the bacteria to infect someone.” As few as 10 shigella bacteria can make someone ill. So far, the outbreak has been centered in Kansas City, which has had 185 cases this year. Most people who get shigellosis suffer diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps that can last as long as a week. In mild cases, recovery is usually compete, although it may take months to feel completely normal. People with impaired immune systems may develop complications. For serious cases, doctors may prescribe antibiotics.