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Shigella outbreak reported among Santa Cruz County homeless population

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION-TV) -- Santa Cruz County Public Health reports they're monitoring 27 cases of shigellosis in people experiencing homelessness since January 2024.

Overall, county health said 16 shigellosis tests were confirmed through lab results while 11 others are under investigation.

Shigellosis is described as an infection caused by a bacteria that causes sickness.

Some of the common symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain/cramps and fever.

County health leaders said symptoms typically start one to two days after initial infection and last about a week, with some lingering symptoms potentially lasting four weeks.

The following are ways people can contract Shigella infection:

  • Getting Shigella bacteria on their hands and then touching their food or
    mouth. This can happen after:
  • Touching surfaces contaminated with Shigella from stool from a sick
  • Eating food that was prepared by someone who has a Shigella infection
  • Swallowing recreational water (for example, lake or river water) while
    swimming or drinking water that is contaminated with the Shigella
  • Changing the diaper of a sick child or caring for a sick person.

County health said the risk to the community as a whole is low, but advise staying healthy by washing hands with soap and water carefully and frequently after using the restroom, changing diapers and before preparing or consumer food/drinks.

For more information on Shigella visit or

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Victor Guzman

Victor Guzman is the Assistant News Director at KION News Channel 5/46.


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