Tuesday, March 22, 2005
By Bradley Flory
An outbreak of shigellosis in Jackson County may have peaked and subsided.
Twenty-nine cases of the communicable disease were confirmed between late January and mid-March, but no new cases have been confirmed in more than 10 days, said Mary Ricciardello, clinical services manger at the Jackson County Health Department.
“We’re hoping this is the end, but you never know,” Ricciardello said. “There are probably always cases of shigellosis out there that go undiagnosed.”
The disease, caused by bacteria called shigella, usually makes people ill for five to seven days.
Typical symptoms are diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps.
The bacteria spreads through the fecal waste of a sick person to the mouth of another person.
It can also spread through food or water touched by contaminated fingers.
Infected people usually become sick a day or two after ingesting the bacteria.
Thorough hand-washing is the best way to prevent the spread of shigellosis.
County health workers contacted family members of sick people, schools and restaurants to stress the importance of hand-washing and good bathroom sanitation to stop the bacteria from spreading.
“We’re hoping the transmission has been broken,” Ricciardello said.
Last fall, more than 130 cases of shigellosis were confirmed in Ingham County. A similar strain caused the illnesses in Jackson County.
More cases may be confirmed in Jackson County because some people are still reporting suspicious symptoms, although their number is dwindling, Ricciardello said.
Many cases undoubtedly went unreported because some people let the symptoms run their course without seeing a doctor, Ricciardello said.
— Reach reporter Bradley Flory at firstname.lastname@example.org or 768-4925.