Pike health officials report results of testing

By Frank Lewis - [email protected]

The Pike County General Health District has now received 10 lab results of individuals who recently visited Long’s Retreat Family Resort who tested positive for Shigella.

Shigellosis is a diarrheal disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Shigella species are transmitted by the fecal-oral route and most infections are transmitted from person to person. Where persons who are infected may be present, the risk of transmission and infection increases with poor hand hygiene, ingestion of contaminated food or water, inadequate sanitation and toileting, and overcrowding.

Shigella can even be carried and spread by flies that have touched contaminated stool. Most who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria. Shigellosis usually resolves in five to seven days. Some people who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others. The spread of Shigella can be stopped by frequent and careful hand washing with antibacterial soap and taking other hygiene measures. Every year, there are about 500,000 cases of Shigellosis in the United States.

The highest onset of those reporting symptoms occurred between July 10 and July 14. So far, over 330 individuals/families as well as 70 employees of Long’s Retreat have completed interviews. The interviews are still being conducted and lab results are still expected. Health officials said only 140 of those individuals have reported symptoms and there is a large number of individuals left to interview without symptoms.

Matt Brewster, public information officer for the health district, said they have received lab results on 14 samples, and as previously stated, 10 of those samples have tested positive for Shigella, one was positive for Salmonella and two were negative for any pathogens. He said it is an insufficient sample to positively identify the cause of the outbreak or to rule out other pathogens, making the collection of stool specimens imperative. Again, the source of the Shigella has not been determined, Brewster added.

Brewster said the bacteria can be transmitted in numerous ways and from person to person, which makes determining the source very difficult. He said many are questioning why testing of the water and other sites has not yet been conducted. First, the pathogen needs to be identified. Secondly, to avoid potential conflict of interest, ODH has requested that Pike County General Health district abstain from participation in any environmental testing. He said that is why the Adams County Health Department performed the food inspections. ODH is handling this aspect of the investigation.

Brewster said the health district is still requesting that individuals who have visited Long’s Retreat since June 1, 2016, to contact the Pike County General Health District or your local health department to complete an interview, even if they did not experience symptoms.

“If you are symptomatic please contact your local county health department for instructions on how to submit a stool sample. These samples are being tested for Shigella, Campylobacter, E. Coli, Salmonella, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium,” Brewster said. “The Pike County General Health District, neighboring health departments, the Ohio Department of Health, the Ohio EPA, Ohio Department of Agriculture, Center for Disease Control, and Long’s Retreat Family Resort will continue investigating this matter until it is resolved and will strive to communicate any updates on this suspected outbreak in a timely manner.”

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.