Reports of a surge in shigella cases across Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties in the Portland metro area have prompted concerns about hygiene and health safety measures. The presence of nine different shigella strains observed since October, resulting in a total of 45 reported cases in December alone, raises significant alarm within the community.
Multnomah County authorities are urging residents to prioritize personal hygiene amidst the uptick in shigella infections, particularly emphasizing vigilance in Old Town Portland. Shigella, a bacterial infection transmitted through fecal matter, induces symptoms such as fever, stomach cramps, vomiting, and prolonged diarrhea, lasting between three to ten days. The ease of shigella transmission is a cause for serious concern, with health officials warning that even minuscule exposure to the bacteria can cause illness.
The Portland Police Bureau’s Central Bike Squad also took to social media, specifically Instagram, to amplify awareness regarding hygiene practices on December 22. This collective effort underscores the gravity of the situation and the necessity for community-wide action to combat the spread of the infection.
Earlier discoveries in Multnomah County revealed a cluster of drug-resistant shigella cases in November, tallying up to 16 infections in the Portland metro area since September. Authorities attribute the majority of shigella strains infiltrating the region to international travelers and interconnected social-sexual networks.
Local health assessments indicate that fecal-oral transmission through sexual contact contributes significantly to the infection rate, accounting for a substantial portion of cases without international travel. Other modes of person-to-person transmission, including outbreaks among demographics with limited hygiene access and individuals engaged in substance misuse, also contribute to the infection spread.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention records approximately 450,000 shigella infections annually in the United States. While most individuals recover within a week or two, those with compromised immune systems face prolonged and severe symptoms. As health authorities continue to address the surge in cases, emphasizing hygiene and preventative measures remains crucial in curbing the spread of shigella within the Portland community.