Elliot Olsen’s experience representing people sickened by foodborne pathogens spans more than two decades, and he has regained millions of dollars in compensation. If you or a family member became sick in this Seattle shigellosis outbreak, please call 612-337-6126, or complete the following:
Public Health – Seattle & King County (WA) announced over the weekend that it is investigating a Seattle shigellosis outbreak linked to two private parties. Seventeen people have been sickened, and one person has been hospitalized.
The parties were held March 3 at Temple Beth Am and Temple Beth Shalom. The parties were catered by Eric Gorbman Catering, although additional food was brought potluck style by attendees.
Two people who became sick are catering employees, although Public Health said, “… these employees did not report being ill while working at the event so it is likely that they were exposed at the event rather than the source of the outbreak.”
Seattle shigellosis outbreak:
Public Health seeks help
To aid in its investigation, Public Health is asking that if you or a family member attended either event, please complete this survey even if you did not become ill. Comparing the food histories of people who became ill and people who did not can help Public Health determine what might have caused the outbreak. It also can help prevent others from becoming sick.
“If you are currently ill with symptoms such as diarrhea — bloody or non-bloody — vomiting, and fever lasting more than three days, please contact your health-care provider to discuss testing and treatment options,” Public Health said in a news release. “Submitting a stool sample can help confirm if you have shigellosis.”
Public Health said it is working with the Washington State Department of Health to collect information from party attendees who are unable to take the online survey. In addition, Public Health investigators are interviewing catering staff and collecting information about the food prepared at the party.
The specific food or drink that caused the Seattle shigellosis outbreak has not been identified. It is possible that the cause of the outbreak will remain unknown. Shigella bacteria spread easily, and multiple food items might have become contaminated.
Seattle shigellosis outbreak:
Shigellosis facts and figures
Shigellosis is an intestinal disease caused by Shigella bacteria. The primary symptom of shigellosis is diarrhea, which often can be bloody.
Shigella bacteria can be passed in contaminated food – as is likely the case in this Seattle shigellosis outbreak – or by drinking or swimming in contaminated water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Shigella bacteria cause about 500,000 cases of diarrhea in the United States on a yearly basis.
According to mayoclinic.org, Shigella infections are most often the result of being passed through direct contact with bacteria in the stool. This can occur in a child-care setting when staff members don’t wash their hands well enough after changing diapers or helping toddlers with toilet training.
The helps to explain why children between the ages of 2 and 4 are most likely to develop shigellosis.
A mild case of shigellosis usually will clear up on its own within a week. When treatment is necessary, doctors generally prescribe antibiotics.
Shigellosis signs and symptoms
Symptoms of shigellosis usually begin 1-2 days after contact with Shigella. They can, however, take as long as a week to develop.
Symptoms usually include:
- diarrhea, which can contain blood or mucus
- abdominal pain or cramps
Although some people do not develop symptoms after becoming infected with Shigella, their feces can stay contagious for as long as a few weeks.
When to contact your doctor
If your child develops bloody diarrhea or diarrhea severe enough to cause weight loss and dehydration, you should contact your primary care provider. You should also contact your doctor if you or your child has diarrhea and a fever of 101 degrees or higher.
Complications of shigellosis
Shigella infection usually clears up without complications. However, it can take weeks or months before your bowel habits return to normal.
Complications can include:
- Dehydration: Persistent diarrhea can cause dehydration. Symptoms include lightheadedness, dizziness, lack of tears in the eyes of children, sunken eyes, and dry diapers. Severe dehydration can lead to shock – or even death.
- Seizures: Some children who run a high fever with a Shigella infection can start to experience seizures. However, it is unknown whether those convulsions are a result of the fever or the Shigella infection. If your child has a seizure, contact your doctor immediately.
- Rectal prolapse: Straining during bowel movements can cause the mucous membrane or lining of the rectum to push out through the anus.
- Hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS): This is a very rare complication of Shigella infection. It is more commonly caused by E. coli bacteria. If HUS occurs, it can produce a low red blood cell count (hemolytic anemia), low platelet count (thrombocytopenia), or acute kidney failure.
- Toxic megacolon: Another rare complication. It occurs when the colon becomes paralyzed, preventing a bowel movement or the passing of gas. Signs and symptoms can include abdominal pain and swelling, fever, and muscle weakness. If you don’t receive treatment for toxic megacolon, your colon can rupture, causing peritonitis, a life-threatening infection that requires emergency surgery.
- Reactive arthritis: Reactive arthritis develops in response to infection. Signs and symptoms include joint pain and inflammation, usually in the ankles, knees, feet and hips; redness; itching discharge in the eyes (conjunctivitis); and painful urination (urethritis).