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Food Poison Journal

Food Poisoning Outbreaks and Litigation: Surveillance and Analysis

All About Shigella

Shigella

Shigella is the bacterium that causes the disease shigellosis, also known as bacillary dysentery. Shigella is one of the most easily transmitted bacterial diarrheas, since it can occur after fewer than 100 bacteria are ingested. While reported cases of Shigella range between 14,000 and 20,000 annually, with the majority of these cases occurring between July and October. Shigella Sonnei is the most common type of Shigella. It accounts for over two-thirds of cases of shigellosis in the United States.

Shigella bacteria are generally transmitted through a fecal-oral route.  Foods that come into contact with human or animal waste can transmit Shigella. Thus, handling toddlers’ diapers, eating vegetables from a field contaminated with sewage, or drinking pool water are all activities that can lead to shigellosis.

Symptoms of Shigella Food Poisoning

Symptoms of Shigella poisoning most commonly develop one to three days after exposure to Shigella bacteria, and usually go away within five to seven days. It is also possible to get Shigella but experience no symptoms, and still be contagious to others, a condition known as being asymptomatic.

Common Shigella Food Poisoning Symptoms

  • Diarrhea: Diarrhea ranges from mild to severe. It is bloody in 25 to 50 percent of cases and usually contains mucus
  • Fever
  • Stomach cramps
  • Rectal spasms

Complications from Shigella

Complications from shigellosis can include severe dehydration, seizures in small children, rectal bleeding, and invasion of the blood stream by the bacteria. Young children and the elderly are at the highest risk of death. The following is a list of specific complications caused by Shigella.

Proctitis and Rectal Prolapse: The bacteria that causes shingellosis can also cause inflammation of the lining of the rectum or rectal prolapse.

Reactive Arthritis: Approximately 3 percent of patients with Shigella infection, most often those with Shigella flexneri, develop Reactive Arthritis. It occurs when the immune system attempts to combat Shigella but instead attacks the body. Symptoms of Reactive Arthritis include inflammation of the joints, eyes, or reproductive or urinary organs. On average, symptoms appear 18 days after infection.

Toxic Megacolon: In this rare complication, the colon is paralyzed and unable to pass bowel movements or gas. Symptoms of Toxic Megacolon include abdominal pain and swelling, fever, weakness, and disorientation. If this complication goes untreated and the colon ruptures, the patient’s condition can be life-threatening.

Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome, or HUS: Shigella rarely results in HUS, which is more commonly a complication of Shiga toxin-producing E. coli infections. HUS can lead to kidney failure.

Diagnosis of Shigella

A Shigella infection is diagnosed through laboratory testing of a stool sample.

Shigella Food Poisoning Treatment

A Shigella infection usually goes away on its own in five to seven days, although bowel movements may continue to be abnormal for up to a month following infection. Antibiotics, however, can shorten the course of the illness. A doctor can prescribe antibiotics after testing a stool sample for the presence of Shigella bacteria.

Some strains of shigellosis are resistant to antibiotics, meaning that antibiotics might not always be an effective treatment. Antidiarrheal medication should be avoided, as it can actually make the illness worse.

Preventing a Shigella Infection

Frequent hand washing is key to preventing Shigella, since individuals can carry Shigella without noticing symptoms, and Shigella bacteria can remain active for weeks after illness.

Steps for Preventing the Spread of Shigella Infection

  • If a child in diapers has shigellosis, wash your hands after changing their diaper and wipe down the changing area with disinfectant
  • People with Shigella should not prepare food for others for at least two days after diarrhea has stopped
  • Drink only treated or boiled water while traveling and only eat fruits you peel yourself
  • Only swim in pools maintaining a chlorine level of 0.5 parts per million and stay clear of pools where children not yet toilet trained are swimming

Additional Resources for Shigella

About-Shigella.com is a comprehensive site with in-depth information about Shigella bacteria and Shigella infection.

Shigella Blog provides up-to-date news related to Shigella outbreaks, research, and more.

Marler Clark Retained in Botulism Outbreak Linked to VR Green Farms Pine Nut Basil Pesto

California Department of Public Health (CDPH) Director and State Health Officer Dr. Ron Chapman warned consumers today not to eat VR Green Farms jarred food products because they may have been improperly produced, making them susceptible to contamination with Clostridium botulinum.

Ingestion of botulism toxin from improperly processed jarred and canned foods may lead to serious illness and death. CDPH is coordinating with the US Food and Drug Administration and the Ohio Department of Health in the investigation of two cases of suspected food-borne botulism infections that may be associated with consumption of the firm’s Pine Nut Basil Pesto.

VR Green Farms of San Clemente, California, is voluntarily recalling the following varieties of jarred food products: Pine Nut Basil Pesto, Pickled Farm Mix, Old World Tomato Sauce, Sundried Tomatoes in Olive Oil, Tuscan Grilling Sauce, and Pasta Sauce. These food products were sold under the VR Farms label and packaged in Mason-style glass jars with screw-on metal lids. The product labels do not include any coding or “use by” dates. Photographs can be found on Recalled Product Photos Page. The products were sold at the VR Green Farms stand in San Clemente, California and via the Internet to consumers throughout the United States.

Botulism toxin is odorless and colorless. Consumers who have any of these products or any foods made with these products should discard them immediately. Double bag the cans in plastic bags and place in a trash receptacle for non-recyclable trash. Wear gloves when handling these products or wash your hands with soap and running water.

Botulism is a rare but serious paralytic illness caused by a nerve toxin that is produced by the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. The initial symptoms frequently experienced are double or blurred vision, drooping eyelids, and dry or sore throat. Progressive descending paralysis, usually symmetrical, may follow. Infants with botulism appear lethargic, feed poorly, are constipated, have a weak cry and poor muscle tone.

Marler Clark Retained in California Shigella Outbreak

Nancy Luna reports with the Orange county Register that an upscale restaurant at Fashion Island that bills itself as a healthy living establishment is at the center of a suspected foodborne illness outbreak involving at least six victims, county officials said Thursday.

The sickened diners tested positive for Shigella, an intestinal bacteria that triggers severe diarrhea. The “common factor” for each victim was they ate a meal at True Food Kitchen in Newport Beach on Aug. 21, 23, 24 and 25, county healthy officials said.

The county shut the restaurant Aug. 28 to investigate the outbreak. None of the victims ate the same dish, leading investigators to believe that the bacteria was spread “person to person,” said Denise Fennessy, director of Environmental Health at the county’s Health Care Agency.

Grass Fed Beef on Trial – Marler Clark Retained in E. coli Outbreak Linked to Whole Foods and Rain Crow Ranch

Let’s be frank, grass fed beef is not pathogenic E. coli free despite all the marketing bullshit.  Please take a long look at my Op-ed of a few years ago.

FSIS was notified of an investigation of E. coli O157:H7 illnesses on June 25, 2014. Working in conjunction with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), FSIS determined that there is a link between ground beef purchased at Whole Foods Market and this illness cluster.

Based on epidemiologic investigation, 3 case-patients (including one HUS caused death) have been identified in Massachusetts with illness onset dates ranging from June 13, 2014 to June 25, 2014. While the onset of illnesses was in June, on August 13, 2014, additional laboratory results provided linkages between the 3 MA case-patients and ground beef purchased from Whole Foods. Traceback investigation indicated that all 3 case-patients consumed ground beef purchased from 2 Whole Foods Market prior to illness onset.

The meat – yes, grass fed, that went into the ground beef, came from Rain Crow Ranch.