Shigella outbreak in Edmonton Zone reopened

March 10, 2023

EDMONTON – Due to a number of cases confirmed in the last three weeks, as of March 9, 2023, Alberta Health Services (AHS) has reopened the Shigella outbreak that’s impacting Edmonton Zone inner-city residents.

In the three weeks following the outbreak’s closure, five new cases were identified, all of who required hospitalization. Even with heightened public health surveillance for illness, we recognize there are cases that go undetected and given case numbers are rising again, AHS is acting in the interest of public health by reopening the outbreak.

The first person became ill on August 17, 2022 with a confirmed diagnosis on August 29, 2022 and an outbreak was declared on September 8, 2022. It was initially declared over on February 16, 2023, following two weeks of no new cases. Closure of an outbreak following two weeks of no new cases is standard practice.

To date, we have identified 211 people with Shigella, 144 of which have required hospitalization. No deaths have been reported connected to this outbreak.

Shigella is a disease that’s commonly associated with diarrhea, as well as fever, nausea and stomach cramps. It can cause severe illness, resulting in hospitalization and it spreads when someone comes into contact with fecal matter from an infected person and also by eating food contaminated with the bacteria.

AHS’ response to this outbreak began immediately following the first confirmed case and that work involves connecting with shelters, inner-city agencies, and local family physicians about the ongoing situation. In early October 2022, AHS reached out to the City of Edmonton for support and in mid-October AHS struck a task force to coordinate resources and a response between inner-city community partners. That task force continues to meet.

We would like to share our thanks and gratitude to the City of Edmonton, Alberta Health, Alberta Community and Social Services, Edmonton area shelters and other partner organizations for their continued work on this outbreak.

Going forward, the task force will discuss additional options for limiting the spread of illness and the possibility of carrying out another medical outreach effort in the inner-city to boost access to testing and treatment.

The majority of the cases to date are within the city’s inner-city population, so the risk to the general public remains low. As always, we would like to remind the general public that proper hand hygiene helps prevent the spread of any illnesses, including Shigella.

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Our mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans. Our current focus is on reducing emergency department wait-times, improving EMS response times, increasing access to surgeries, and improving patient flow.