Gettin’ shiggy wit it: Increase of shigella-linked illnesses in St. Louis

STLtoday reports tonight that there appears to be an Shigella outbreak going on linked to child care centers in St. Louis. Shigellosis is characterized by fever, cramps and may result in bloody diarrhea, but most recover within a week without treatment.

There have been 67 cases of shigellosis from July 1 through Monday, compared to nine cases for all of 2008, according to the St. Louis City Department of Health.

Health officials said four day care centers and one school clustered in south St. Louis city reported illnesses. Officials did not offer other specifics except to say that children ages 4 and younger are most commonly infected.

City health officials sent the shigellosis alert to day cares and schools, where the shigella bacteria is typically spread when people don’t wash their hands properly after using the bathroom or changing diapers. It can also be spread through contact with food. Shigella bacteria can remain in feces for several weeks.


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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.