Flint’s Experiencing a New Outbreak: Ever Heard of Shigellosis?

shigellosis under the microscope

Shigellosis usually causes diarrhea, cramps, and a high fever.

Flint, the town previously affected by high quantities of lead in the public water supply, is now experiencing a new outbreak that is affecting the health of the citizens. Shigellosis, a bacterial infection that causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps has been leaving a considerable trace of victims.

According to the CDC, in the United States alone, approximately 500,000 individuals get infected by the bacteria every year.

What Is Happening in Flint?

The environmental health supervisor in charge of the Genesee County area, Jim Henry, declared that the lead scandal caused people to distrust the quality of the water supply, one of the consequences being people not washing their hands or themselves.

By using baby wipes to clean their hands, the inhabitants of Flint exposed themselves to more bacteria that affected their health even more than the increased lead levels.

According to official reports, the entire state of Michigan is affected by the bacteria. Until now, 454 cases were registered, while in 2015, 515 people were affected by the disorder. By comparison, in 2013 only 175 people were diagnosed with the bacterial infection, and 249 in 2012.

What is Shigellosis?

Shigellosis is a bacterial infection caused by the Shigella bacteria, a close relative of Salmonella. The rod-shaped bacteria are only present in primates and humans, and it usually causes symptoms similar to dysentery.

The number of worldwide deaths linked to Shigella is estimated to be somewhere around 74,000 and 600,000.

How Does It Manifest?

Shigellosis symptoms range from abdominal discomfort to dysentery. During the latter stage, the patient usually experiences severe abdominal cramps, slimy stools with a medium consistency, and fever. In some cases, doctors discovered that the stool sample of the affected individuals contained mucus or pus.

The onset time of the disease ranges from 12 to 96 hours and the recovery time is somewhere between 5 to 7 days.

Other health problems associated with the Shigella infection are hemolytic uremic syndrome and reactive arthritis.

In rarer instances, patients dealt with rectal bleeding, mucosal ulceration, and severe dehydration caused by persistent diarrhea.

Can It Be Avoided?

The main culprit of the Shigellosis outbreak is poor hygiene. The number of affected people could be considerably reduced if people started washing their hands more often.

Image source: Public Domain Pictures 

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