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Rates of Bacteria-Borne Disease Surge Among Kansas City Children

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Public Health Image Library

An infectious disease that typically affects about 10 people in Kansas City annually has already spread to more than 14 times that number this year, health officials said Friday.

Shigella is spread by direct or indirect fecal-oral contact. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever and vomiting, among other symptoms. It may also cause convulsions in young children.

The Kansas City Health Department has investigated more than 143 cases of the disease since the start of the year, officials said.

When untreated, Shigella bacteria can remain in the body for four weeks or more. Anti-microbial treatment can reduce that to a few days.

The microbes appear to be unusually hardy. 

“What is also concerning is that that we are seeing three different strains that are resistant to certain antibiotics,” Tiffany Wilkinson, a health department official, said in a statement.

To prevent further spreading of Shigella, health officials advise hand washing, correct diaper disposal and keeping sick adults and children away from swimming pools.

As a health care reporter, I aim to empower my audience to take steps to improve health care and make informed decisions as consumers and voters. I tell human stories augmented with research and data to explain how our health care system works and sometimes fails us. Email me at alexs@kcur.org.
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