Contagious Bacterial Disease Cases Steadily Rising In San Diego
UPDATE: 2:38 p.m., Feb. 21, 2019
San Diego County Health and Human Services believes the rise in shigellosis cases is due to better reporting.
“We think that the increased number of cases that are being reported in the last couple of years is mostly related to the fact that doctors have a cheaper, easier and faster test to diagnose shigella,” said Dr. Eric McDonald. McDonald is the medical director for the county's epidemiology and immunization services branch.
McDonald said every person who contracts shigellosis is interviewed by the county.
“Try to connect the dots to see if there is in fact something in common,” McDonald said. “And in the last number of years we haven’t seen any common food or drug or location sources that have lead us to believe that there is an outbreak.”
San Diego County Health and Human Services said in 2017, San Diego saw the highest number of shigellosis cases in 20 years. The disease is known to cause diarrhea and can be deadly for people with weak immune systems.
A health advisory from the county last year said gay men, people who are homeless and young children are more at risk to contract the disease. The infection is spread through feces and usually affects people for less than a week.
Data from the county show cases are steadily increasing in San Diego. In 2016 there was a monthly average of 19 cases, in 2017 that increased to an average of 27 cases and just last year it rose to 32 monthly cases. The county’s latest report shows in the first month of this year there were 40 cases of shigellosis.
San Diego County Health and Human Services told KPBS Tuesday no one was available for an interview on this and did not provide a statement. A spokesman did say they plan to address the rise in cases sometime this week.
Shigellosis is spread through feces in a similar way to hepatitis A. There were zero cases of hepatitis A reported in January.