For hundreds of tourists, a trip to the beautiful island nation of Cape Verde on the coast of Africa turned into a nightmare.
Shigella bacterium, a common but occasionally dangerous gastrointestinal virus, has been linked to the area starting with last fall.
There have been over 200 instances reported, including cases in travelers coming back to the United States, and some of these patients may even have multidrug resistance to the medicine used to treat the infection.
The outbreak appears to have started back in September, but from November to December, it evolved really fast.
In a report, the ECDC stated that “Most cases have stayed in five-star, all-inclusive hotels in the Santa Maria region of the island Sal.”
There have been 221 confirmed cases and 37 suspected ones in more than a dozen counties, including the US, UK and other countries in Europe.
Furthermore, one person in Portugal has been hospitalized as a result, even though no deaths have been recorded.
According to the World Health Organization, Shigella is the most common bacterial diarrheal disease in the world.
The majority of infections are intensely unpleasant but self-limiting, lasting about a week, with fever, cramps, and diarrhea.
Serious disease is more common in very young children or those with compromised immune systems. Less frequently, it can also cause severe dehydration or other life threatening repercussions.
One of the four types of bacteria that cause sickness, Shigella sonnei, is the main perpetrator of this current outbreak.
The most likely means of the outbreak spreading, according to authorities, are food or water, especially through sick food handlers.
However, there may be more than one means of transmission at play, including interpersonal interactions such as intercourse.
Even though the majority of Shigella infections do resolve on their own, severe cases need immediate medical attention.
Shigella, sadly, is continuously figuring out ways to resist medication, much like many other bacterial illnesses.
Despite Shigella’s mildness, the WHO estimates that it still claims the lives of about 200,000 people annually.
Many scientists are working diligently to create an effective vaccine against the bacteria given the threat it poses now and in the future.
Around the world, these vaccines are undergoing clinical trials, and at least one of these trials is currently recruiting participants in the United States who are willing to drink something contaminated with the bacteria in order to help figure it all out.