local health experts, restaurant owners concerned about drug-resistant shigella

RALEIGH, North Carolina — Local restaurants are making a greater effort to keep your food safe from drug-resistant bacteria.

The CDC has issued a warning about the rise in shigella, a drug-resistant bacteria that can be spread through contaminated food and surfaces.

Although there are currently no known cases of shigella in North Carolina, local experts say it’s only a matter of time depending on how quickly it can spread.

“[Its a] much more serious type of food poisoning,” said Duke Health infectious disease expert Dr. Cameron Wolfe.

Wolfe said some of the symptoms include diarrhea, stomach cramps and fever, with symptoms lasting up to seven days.

Symptoms are only part of what worries Wolfe.

“Part of the recent concern is that many bacteria are becoming more drug resistant,” Wolfe said.

Another problem with shigella is that although your symptoms may disappear after seven days, you may still be contagious for several weeks.

“It’s really risky to have something like that, especially in a restaurant,” said Fredy Alvarez, owner of Gringo A Go Go in Raleigh. “If someone is contagious, they can spread it.”

With the potential for shigella to spread from raw food or food prepared by an infected person, Alvarez and his employees stepped up their practices in response to the CDC’s warning.

Alvarez emphasizes that staff clean thoroughly, wash their hands and wear gloves while handling food.

He also encourages anyone who is not feeling well to stay home.

“We know we can be small,” Alvarez said. “We prefer to sacrifice the restaurant in the short term, but know that everyone’s health is safe this way.”

Dr. Wolfe and other experts encourage people to wash their hands before eating or while preparing food and after using the bathroom.

Wolfe also said it’s essential to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and electrolytes.

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