Alberta Health Services (AHS) is continuing its investigation into a recent Shigella outbreak.

According to AHS, they noticed a cluster of Shigella cases from the inner-city population of Edmonton in August.

Back in October, they identified 87 people with Shigella — 64 of them were taken to hospital.

In less than a month, these cases have doubled to 173 people identified with Shigella — 115 required hospitalizations.

Shigella is a bacterium that spreads through contact with feces or by eating contaminated food. It can cause severe illness resulting in hospitalization, with symptoms ranging from diarrhea and fever to nausea and stomach cramps.

“We recognize that the case numbers in this outbreak are concerning, and we are doing everything we can to care for this vulnerable population, including coordinating additional resources and supports in the downtown area. Thankfully, we are starting to see a bend in the curve of case numbers,” explains Dr. Michael Zakhary, AHS Edmonton Zone Medical Officer of Health. 

Despite the rise in cases, the risk to the general public remains low. However, AHS encourages proper hand hygiene to help prevent the spread of illnesses, including Shigella.