Last week health officials announcedthat they were investigating an ongoing Shigella outbreak in New York’s Onondaga County. Since that time, the victim count has risen from 25 to 34.
The Onondaga County Health Department said Tuesday that 21 cases have been confirmed and 13 more are probably part of the outbreak as well.
Some reports have said that half of the victims are children under 10, but the Health Department was unable to confirm this fact for Food Safety News.
Investigators are currently working to determining the source of the Shigella bacteria, which they think is being transmitted both through food and from person to person through human fecal matter.
“We’re still doing interviews to try to determine the source of the Shigella,” said Kathy Mogle, a spokesperson for the Onondaga County Health Department, in an interview with Food Safety News.
Mogle advises people experiencing these symptoms to contact their healthcare provider, who will likely take a stool sample to test for the pathogen.
The illness usually resolves within 5-7 days.
In order to prevent the spread of Shigella bacteria, the Health Department is advising Onondaga County residents to take the following measures:
– Carefully wash all fruits and vegetables. Cook foods to the appropriate temperatures. Minimize cross-contamination of foods by washing cutting boards/knives and other shared surfaces.
– Do not prepare food for others while ill with diarrhea
– Wash hand with soap carefully and frequently especially after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, and before preparing foods or beverages.
– Supervise hand washing of toddlers and small children after they use the toilet
– Dispose of soiled diapers properly
– Disinfect diaper-changing areas after using them, and
– Keep children with diarrhea out of child care settings
These measures are especially important because Shigella is transmitted easily from person to person. Humans can become sick after ingesting fewer than 100 bacteria.
Shigella is estimated to affect about 20,000 – 40,000 people annually in the United States.© Food Safety News