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Shigella Outbreak Sickens 80 at South Carolina Elementary School


EMSL Analytical provides microbial testing services to protect people from environmental pathogens.
Cinnaminson, NJ, October 28th, 2011
This month, WSPA, a regional CBS affiliate, reported that a major outbreak of Shigella has sickened 80 people at the Honea Path Elementary School in Honea Path, South Carolina. According to the report, so far the sick include students, staff and parents.  The outbreak came on quickly and the school has begun extensive cleaning efforts to get the outbreak under control.
Shigella are Gram-negative, nonmotile, nonsporeforming rod-shaped bacteria. The illness caused by Shigella, known as shigellosis, is perhaps more often associated with outbreaks of foodborne illness in the United States.  An estimated 300,000 cases of shigellosis occur annually in the U.S.
As few as 10 cells, depending on the age and the condition of the host, can cause illness just 12 to 50 hours after entering the human body. Shigella species are highly infectious agents that are transmitted primarily by the fecal-oral route.  The disease is caused when the Shigella organisms attach to, and penetrate, epithelial cells of the intestinal mucosa. After invasion, they multiply intracellularly, resulting in tissue destruction. Some strains produce enterotoxin and Shiga toxin.
Symptoms can include abdominal pain, cramps, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, and blood, pus, or mucus in stools.  Shigella is principally a disease of humans and the organism is frequently found in water polluted with human feces.
“Infants, the elderly and the infirm are susceptible to the severest symptoms of the disease, but all humans are susceptible to some degree,” reported Joe Frasca, Senior Vice President, Marketing at EMSL Analytical, a leading environmental pathogen testing laboratory.  “Environmental testing can identify the organism and help to pinpoint the source of the pathogenic bacteria to help prevent and stop outbreaks,” he continued.    
EMSL recently sponsored an educational video about Shigella that can be seen at:
To learn more about environmental pathogen testing services or other environmental and indoor air quality (IAQ) services, please visit, call (800)220-3675 or email
About EMSL Analytical, Inc.
EMSL Analytical is a nationally recognized and locally focused provider of environmental and materials testing services and products to professionals and the general public.  The company has an extensive list of accreditations from leading organizations as well as state and federal regulating bodies.


 microbiology testing
 foodborne illness

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