As a Shigella outbreak continues to affect Edmonton’s inner city population, the city is partnering with a couple of organizations to assess and triage people for the disease.
With the help of the Edmonton Police Service, the City of Edmonton said its encampment response team will connect with Radius Community Health & Healing (formerly Boyle McCauley Health Centre) when they come across people living in encampments who are showing symptoms of Shigella. Team members will ensure people have access to testing and treatment.
“This is an important step forward in our efforts to protect Edmonton’s most vulnerable residents,” said city manager Andre Corbould. “People experiencing homelessness face significant health risks, especially when they lack proper sanitation during a Shigella 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.
Since the first case of Shigella was diagnosed on Aug. 29, Alberta Health Services says 173 people have contracted the disease as of Nov. 17, 115 of whom have required hospitalization.
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The outbreak is primarily affecting members of Edmonton’s inner city population, AHS said.
Encampment closures that were scheduled for Nov. 9 were delayed by two weeks due to the outbreak. The city said Wednesday that the closures will resume on Wednesday.
“Our role is to keep everyone safe during encampment closures,” EPS acting chief Devin Laforce said. “This multi-agency, partnered approach ensures that when encampments need to be closed, we are able to provide the safest, smoothest and most dignified experience possible for those who are living there.”
To help prevent the spread of Shigella, the City of Edmonton has provided additional funding to extend the operation of temporary mobile washrooms that were set up in May. Operations at five washrooms were extended and two new locations were added. Showers and laundry services are also being set up at two locations, according to the city.
Anyone who sees someone in distress in Edmonton can call 911 in the case of an emergency. Call 211 and press 3 for 24/7 crisis diversion non-emergency support for shelter, intoxication and mental health concerns.