Flint is faced with yet another bacterial illness as a result of the contaminated-water crisis that has been plaguing the county.
Shigellosis has been affecting Flint since the beginning of this year, but it was only this month that the number of people affected had raised to an alarming rate. According to Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, for 2016 alone, 456 people had been affected with the disease, 85 of which belonged to Flint.
News of the poisoned water crisis in Flint has reached a large audience. It began when Flint started tapping into the Flint River as a water source. It was later found out that the water was not properly treated. Lead from aging service lines began leaching into the Flint water supply, causing extremely elevated levels of heavy metal neurotoxin.
The lead contamination has resulted to various diseases especially among the children -- from hearing problems to impaired cognition. In 2014, Flint has experienced one of the worst outbreaks of Legionnaires' disease in US History. Now, they are faced with Shigellosis.
Below are some facts about the disease:
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most who are infected with Shigella, the bacteria causing the disease, develop diarrhea, fever and stomach pain a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria.
Reducing the spread of Shigella requires a multi-pronged approach, but you can prevent its transmission by washing your hands more often as it can spread through contaminated hands that had made contact with the bacteria.
According to Mayo Clinic, Shigella can be passed through direct contact with the bacteria in the stool. It can also be passed through exposure to feces through sexual contact. But the easiest way you can get the bacteria is through contaminated hands, food or water.
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent shigellosis. Diarrhea caused by Shigella usually resolves without antibiotic treatment in 5 to 7 days, provided the affected has enough fluids and rest. Before, Shigella was treated with antibiotics. However, Shigella have become resistant to some antibiotics.
One of the risk factors of the disease is living in an area with lack of sanitation, such as the case of Flint. Risk factor in children is also higher as they often put their hands on their mouth which may facilitate transmission of the bacteria.
Jim Henry, Genesee County's environmental health supervisor told CNN that since the outbreak began, people started to rely on wet wipes to sanitize, but wet wipes alone cannot kill the bacteria. "People aren't bathing because they're scared. Some people have mentioned that they're not going to expose their children to the water again."
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