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An alarming outbreak of a “highly contagious” infection in Victoria has prompted health officials to issue an urgent alert. The state’s chief health officer has expressed concerns about the rapid spread of Shigellosis, a drug-resistant bacterial infection primarily affecting men who have sex with men. The situation has prompted contact-tracing efforts to contain the outbreak.

Professor Brett Sutton, Victoria’s chief health officer, emphasised the seriousness of the situation in his recent alert. He stated that there has been a significant rise in Shigellosis cases caused by strains of antibiotic-resistant Shigella bacteria. Such infections pose a substantial public health challenge as they are more difficult to treat.

Health officials are currently engaged in contact tracing measures to identify and monitor individuals who may have come into contact with the infection. It is crucial to promptly detect and isolate potential cases to prevent further transmission.

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Shigellosis manifests with sudden diarrhoea, which may contain pus, mucus, or blood, accompanied by fever, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal cramps. A stool sample is required for diagnosis.

While Shigellosis is generally a self-limiting infection, it is highly contagious and can have severe consequences.

Symptoms usually appear within one to three days after exposure, with some cases manifesting as early as 12 hours or as late as one week. Infected individuals can remain contagious for up to four weeks after their symptoms subside.

The gay community in Victoria is strongly urged to engage in safer sex practices, including the use of condoms.

Individuals experiencing symptoms of gastroenteritis are advised to refrain from sexual activity and from preparing food for others until at least 48 hours after their symptoms have ceased.

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