The hospital laboratory isolated a bacteria called Shigella from all of the samples of patient diarrhea.
So, what is Shigella (pronounced ‘she gell la’)?
Shigella is a bacterial pathogen that is known to cause stomach ache, abdominal pain, and diarrhea (sometimes bloody)–symptoms that matched those of the children and parents in the dance class.
There are some other bacterial pathogens that cause similar symptoms, however what makes Shigella so unique is its low infective dose. This means that it only takes a few Shigella cells to start an infection. Consequently, anything (like a food) that is contaminated with Shigella can infect a lot of people.
Another unique thing about Shigella is that it only comes from humans, and more specifically, human feces (poop).
A typical scenario involving Shigella food poisoning goes something like this… A person has Shigella in their body, they go to the bathroom, but then they DO NOT wash their hands. And then they touch food or eating utensils (like a fork). You eat the food or place the fork in your mouth, and then Shigella infects you.
Now, back to our infected dance class. Was eating contaminated pizza how they all became ill?
Read Part 3 for the answer
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