Shigella Outbreak Continues in Florida

Okaloosa County, Florida is experiencing an outbreak of the Shigella.  This contagious bacterium usually appears up to 3 times a year, but so far in 2012, the Okaloosa County Health Department reports that there have been 49 confirmed and probable cases.  Shigella is typically identified by fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, and diarrhea, but other complications may also arise.

Shigella is similar to E. coli and salmonella in that it is extremely contagious.  Contaminated food and drink is the number one cause of Shigella exposure, and children are the most at risk.

Treating Shigella

Mild cases of Shigella may clear up on their own, but in some situations, medical treatment is recommended.  Typically, the victim will suffer from related symptoms for 5-7 days, although antibiotics may help in reducing the duration of the illness.  The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests a course of:

  • Antibiotics such as ampicillin, Bactrim, or ciprofloxacine.  Healthy adults may not necessarily need antibiotic support, but children, the elderly, and individuals suffering from other health complications can benefit from this treatment.
  • Fluids to counteract the effects of dehydration.  Both oral fluids and the use of intravenous hydration are utilized in the treatment process.

Victims should not utilize medications targeted at stopping diarrhea because they can worsen the condition and counteract the benefits of antibiotics.

Preventing the Spread of Shigella

In order to prevent the spread of Shigella and other types of food poisoning, people must take time to wash their hands thoroughly and properly disinfect food preparation areas.  Individuals experiencing symptoms of Shigella infection should avoid preparing food, playing with pets, and touching others.

Food Poisoning Dangers

When manufacturers, restaurant employees, or other food handlers are negligent in their duties to safely prepare and package food, bacteria such as Shigella can spread rapidly, putting many at risk.

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