Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Shigellosis Outbreak in Flint, Michigan

Flint, Michigan is still in the midst of a water crisis that started back in 2014 when Flint official sought a cheaper water supplier. The change is water supply eventually led to a decline in water quality and eventually it was found that lead levels were at a hazardous amount. This crisis led to an increased lead level found amongst the Flint children and has since caused a lot of distrust with the water of Flint, which may have spurred this new outbreak.

This year there have been 53 cases of Shigellosis within Flint. Considering that 53 of the 84 cases found within the entire county were found in Flint alone leads many to turn toward the health quality as a possible explanation. Shigellosis, according to the CDC, is an infectious disease that causes those infected to “develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.” The bacteria Shigella will resolve in 5-7 days and its stop can be through frequent and careful handwashing. The problem in Flint, however, is that the fear of using the water supply has led to a decrease hygiene measures, such as washing hands and bathing. The county environmental health supervisor, Jim Henry, said that the residents of Flint are more and more relying on baby wipes as a form of cleaning their children and hand, but that method fails to properly kill bacteria and should not be an alternative to handwashing.

While Shigella is a bacteria rather than a virus, it is another form of an infectious disease outbreak and highlights the importance of preventative measures, such as handwashing, to stop the spread of the pathogen. While Shigellosis is not as death threatening as Ebola, measures should still be quickly take to prevent further outbreaks.

--Jeanette Rios

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