United States: In a stark development amidst the challenges posed by COVID-19, flu, and RSV, health agencies in Multnomah County have raised an alert regarding a new outbreak of the infectious disease known as Shigella.
The infection, according to reports from health officials, is swiftly proliferating across the Portland metro area.
Describing Shigella, experts in biology highlight it as an intestinal infection that easily transmits from one person to another, primarily through fecal matter, health experts confirm.
Spread of Infection in the County:
Local medical professionals are facing a significant hurdle as Shigella-like symptoms emerge in approximately three individuals, as reported by the Union Gospel Mission. These patients have been relocated to a converted health shelter within a Southeast Portland church, with one requiring ambulance transportation to a hospital.
Health authorities stress the severity of the disease as it spreads extensively across the region.
Local Resident’s Harrowing Experience:
Recalling a distressing encounter with Shigella, a resident named Bobby Artale shared, “It lasted two weeks. It was uncontrollable diarrhea. Oh, it was horrible. It lasted two weeks,” as cited by KATU.com.
Describing the contagious nature of the infection, Artale added, “Shigella spreads like wildfire. I had to be isolated and had to eat my food alone.”
Artale further detailed his experience to KATU.com, mentioning the challenges faced while attempting to maintain personal hygiene and accessing necessary resources amid isolation.
Preventative Measures by Multnomah County Health Department:
Multnomah County’s Deputy Health Officer, Teresa Everson, highlighted the various measures undertaken by the health department for individuals testing positive for Shigella. However, the emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains poses a considerable challenge.
Everson explained, “Recent disease trends in Multnomah County indicate that between half to two-thirds of cases might result from fecal-oral transmission through sexual contact, without any international travel.”
Sara McCall, a team member of the health department, emphasized the difficulty in treating severe cases requiring antibiotics due to their ineffectiveness against certain strains.
Health authorities also expressed concerns regarding the vulnerability of homeless individuals to the infection due to limited restroom access. Moreover, they highlighted the risk faced by same-sex couples.
As cases continue to rise rapidly, authorities are disseminating preventive measures. Official data confirms a total of 45 reported cases in Washington Co., Clackamas Co., and Multnomah Counties.
Multnomah County health authorities have taken proactive steps, including providing hotel vouchers, to aid homeless individuals in recovery and stem the spread of Shigella.