Mid-Michigan counties become center of shigellosis outbreak - WNEM TV 5

Mid-Michigan counties become center of shigellosis outbreak

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

It’s a bacteria that causes diarrhea, fever and abdominal pain and it has been hitting Mid-Michigan hard.

Genesee County had 84 cases of shigellosis through September of this year, while Saginaw County was second-highest in the state with 47 cases.

“We do know that more than one half of the Genesee County shigellosis cases have been in Flint,” said Jennifer Eisner, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Shigellosis is usually found in small children, and is highly contagious. Symptoms usually don’t show up until a day or two after catching it.

“We don’t know the exact reason. Like I say, it has been increased in Genesee County and Bay County and Saginaw County. There isn’t a particular reason why,” Dr. Gary Johnson said.

Johnson is the medical director at the Genesee County Health Department.  He admitted they do not know the cause behind the spike in shigellosis, a highly contagious gastrointestinal bacterium.

Johnson said while health officials try to figure out the cause, they must also educate the public on how to prevent it.

“We want to tackle it. Get this campaign going. Good diaper techniques. Good hand washing techniques. So people are aware of it,” he said.

Imran Baig is a doctor at the Flushing Road urgent care. He said the sickness can be treated with antibiotics but prevention is the first line of defense.

“People that are actually infected, they do not always wash their hands properly after going to the bathroom. Especially after using restrooms. They can pass it on. So number one thing is wash your hands,” Baig said.

Doctors also said shigella is spread by contaminated surfaces, food and drinking water contaminated with fecal matter. Symptoms of shigella include diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Johnson said the health department will start their hand washing campaign from October to March and it will hopefully help prevent other illness like the flu.

Officials with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services have been working with the Genesee County Health Department to spread awareness about the illness at daycares, schools and other places.

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