Amid water crisis, Flint faces a Shigellosis outbreak

Flint, Michigan, is dealing with another outbreak. This time it’s an infectious bacterial disease called Shigellosis, which can cause bloody diarrhea and fever and typically spreads when people don’t wash their hands.

That’s exactly what’s happening in Flint, the county health director told CNN.
A water crisis has plagued residents there for more than two years. Last year, people experienced rashes and hair loss when high levels of lead were found in the local water supply. In 2014, the area faced one of the worst outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease in US history.
Still afraid and mistrustful of the water, people in Flint — who are still forced to use either filtered or bottled water because of damaged water pipes — are bathing less, and refusing to wash their hands.
“People aren’t bathing because they’re scared,” said Jim Henry, Genesee County’s environmental health supervisor. “Some people have mentioned that they’re not going to expose their children to the water again.”
Instead, he said, people in Flint rely on baby wipes, which they can get for free at bottled water distribution centers.
“But baby wipes are not effective, they’re not chlorinated, it doesn’t kill the bacteria and it doesn’t replace handwashing,” Henry said. “People have changed their behavior regarding personal hygiene. They’re scared.”
Shigellosis is caused by the Shigella bacteria, and its symptoms include fever, abdominal pain and diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. Symptoms usually resolve after five to seven days without antibiotic treatment, but it is very contagious, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. There are about 500,000 cases in the United States every year.