Cases of the infectious disease Shigellosis, or Shigella, have increased by as much as 11-fold in the Orthodox Jewish communities of Borough Park and Williamsburg, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).
There are typically 200-300 cases of the diarrheal disease – whose symptoms include loose stool, fever and vomiting – every year in New York City, out of a documented population of 8.4 million.
As reported by the website outbreaknews.com, during just the last two months there have been more than 45 reported cases in Williamsburg and Borough Park “among a population of less than 200,000.”
According to a Yeshiva World News report, Councilman David G. Greenfield said, “The Health Department has told us that the easiest way to prevent Shigellosis is to carefully wash hands with warm running water and soap after using the toilet or changing diapers.”
Shigellosis is an acute bacterial disease of the intestines caused by several species of the bacterium, Shigella. It is typified by loose stools, frequently containing blood and mucus (dysentery), accompanied by fever, vomiting, cramps and occasionally toxemia.
It can cause bacillary dysentery because of the invasive ability of the organism that may result ulcerations and abscesses of the intestines.
It rarely spreads to the bloodstream.
More severe complications may include convulsions in children, Reiter’s syndrome and hemolytic uremic syndrome depending on the species of Shigella implicated.
The intestinal illness is found throughout the world, with the bulk of instances, as well as deaths, occurring in children.
It commonly afflicts groups in crowded conditions where personal hygiene can be poor, such as daycare centers.
Shigella’s effects are normally felt 1-3 days after transmission. An infected person can be contagious for up to four weeks. The disease is normally transmitted orally through fecal matter.