Portland on red alert as Shigella Infection spreads through city

December 28, 2023 by No Comments

The Multnomah County Health Department has issued a renewed public health warning regarding an ongoing outbreak of shigellosis, a highly contagious intestinal infection, sweeping through the Portland metropolitan area. This resurgence of the bacterial illness has prompted heightened concern and intensified public health efforts to curb its spread.

Shigellosis is caused by Shigella bacteria, invading the intestinal tract and triggering severe diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, and vomiting. Transmission primarily occurs through fecal-oral contact, often via contaminated hands, surfaces, or water. The highly infectious nature of the bacteria amplifies the urgency of implementing effective preventative measures.

Multnomah County has recorded at least 45 confirmed shigellosis cases in December alone, highlighting the active spread of the infection. Individuals experiencing homelessness and same-sex couples face heightened risk due to challenges with hygiene and sanitation access.

Homelessness can significantly restrict access to restrooms and sanitation facilities, disproportionately impacting this population. The emergence of antibiotic-resistant Shigella strains poses a significant treatment challenge, necessitating swift public health interventions.

Those who may be vulnerable to the disease have been asked to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after using the toilet, changing diapers, or coming into contact with someone who is sick. Other measures include regularly disinfecting surfaces that could harbor fecal matter, such as doorknobs, countertops, and toilet seats.

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