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Shigellosis Outbreak Reported in Kalamazoo County

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Photo: Video by fox47news.com

Shigellosis Outbreak Reported in Kalamazoo County

By FOX 47 News. CREATED Jul 18, 2014

A familiar illness from a few years ago is back and spreading in Michigan. Health officials here are keeping a close eye on the shigella bacteria. More than 40 cases have been confirmed in Kalamazoo County in recent weeks and that number is expected to grow.

Shigella infects the digestive tract, causing a disease called Shigellosis which leads to a fever, cramping, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea. Shigella is very contagious and can be spread through food, poor hand-washing, or most concerning this time of year, swimming.

"If you have it on your hands, and then you go swimming, your hands are coming into contact with the water. That water is then coming into contact potentially with other people who are swimming. They're getting it on themselves, or they're swallowing the water," said local health educator Christine Hendrickson.

Doctors aren't sure what caused the outbreak. They say washing your hands thoroughly can dramatically lower the chances of spreading the disease.