Title: Shigella Outbreak Hits Portland, Poses High Risk for Homeless Population
In a concerning development, health officials in Portland have reported a significant increase in cases of Shigella, a highly contagious infection. With 45 new cases reported in the last month alone, this brings the total number of cases in the city to a staggering 218 since 2023. Authorities are particularly worried about the homeless population, which they have identified as the most at risk.
Shigella is an infection that spreads through human feces and can be transmitted when individuals touch their mouths after coming into contact with the bacteria. It can also be spread through sexual intercourse. Due to their lack of access to hygienic facilities, homeless people and same-sex male partners are particularly vulnerable to the infection, warns Multnomah County in Oregon.
Most of the infections have been detected among homeless individuals residing in downtown Portland’s Old Town neighborhood. Symptoms of Shigella include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, lasting from three to 10 days. Infected individuals must isolate themselves to prevent further spread of the infection.
Recent reports indicate that three people staying at a shelter hosted by a local church have exhibited symptoms consistent with Shigella, according to the Union Gospel Mission. Officials have suggested relocating infected individuals to motels to isolate them and provide them with access to proper hygiene facilities.
Shigella outbreaks tend to occur more frequently in places such as child care centers, community wading pools, nursing homes, jails, and military barracks, due to its highly contagious nature. It is estimated that globally, between 80 to 165 million people contract Shigella annually, leading to bacterial diarrhea. Shockingly, approximately 40,000 individuals lose their lives each year due to this infection. African and South Asian children are considered particularly vulnerable to the disease.
As the number of Shigella cases continues to rise in Portland, health officials are urging the public, especially homeless individuals, to remain vigilant and take necessary precautions to limit the spread of the infection. Increased access to hygienic facilities and swift isolation measures can prove instrumental in curbing the outbreak and safeguarding vulnerable populations.