Union delegates prepping for the largest healthcare strike in U.S. history suffered a massive Shigella bacteria outbreak.

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LOS ANGELES, CA — With California facing the largest healthcare strike in the nation’s history, a meeting of union delegates from around the state led to a mass outbreak of Shigella bacteria, California health officials confirmed this month.

The Alameda County Public Health Department first reported the outbreak noting six confirmed cases from around the state linked to a union delegate conference for Kaiser Permanente workers held at a hotel venue in downtown Los Angeles at the end of August. This week, the Los Angeles Times reported that 32 of the 300 attendees at the Westin Bonaventure in downtown Los Angeles have reported symptoms, which can include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, fever and even kidney failure. Six of the attendees were hospitalized, the Times reported.


“Shigella is very infectious and spreads easily. An infected person sheds Shigella bacteria in their stool while they are sick and often for more than a week afterwards,” the Alameda County Public Health Department warned. “Not washing your hands well after using the toilet can spread the bacteria.”

While the healthcare union delegates were preparing for the possibility of a pending healthcare strike, they were forced to relocate the gathering to the Westin Bonaventure due to the hotel workers striking across Los Angeles County.

The union coalition Friday afternoon warned that more than 75,000 workers will stage a three-day walkout in October if a deal isn’t reached soon.

SEE ALSO: CA Could See Largest Healthcare Strike In US History By End Of Month

Sacramento resident Terri McDonald told the Times she was sickened after attending the conference.

McDonald, who is suing the hotel, told the Times, she was so sick, her kidneys began to fail, and she nearly died.

“They were rushing to save my life,” she told the Newspaper.

“The health, safety and wellness of our guests and associates is paramount,” a hotel spokesperson told the Times in a statement. The hotel staff “fully cooperated with the necessary public health agencies.”

Earlier this year, Public health officials in California warned of the spread of antibiotic-resistant Shigella infections, a “Superbug.” The bacteria is easily spread, and federal health officials are asking healthcare providers in California to report cases to local or state health departments.

The stomach bug, which causes the diarrheal condition known as shigellosis, poses a “serious public health threat,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a public health alert.

In an average year, California reports about 2,500 cases of Shigella infections, according to a report by the California Department of Public Health. However, officials are seeing a rise in strains resistant to antibiotic treatment over the last couple years.

Drug-resistant infections have been reported in more than half of all states with the most cases in California, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported earlier this year.

In 2022, about 5 percent of infections were caused by the more drug-resistant strain, compared to 0 percent in 2015, the agency said.

“Symptoms of illness from Shigella usually begin within two days after exposure to Shigella and typically last for five to seven days. Many people may have mild disease that gets better without medical treatment and will recover fully,” according to a statement by the Alameda County Public Health Department. “However, some people, especially young children, older adults, and persons with weakened immune systems, may have severe disease that requires hospitalization. A small number of people can develop complications such as blood stream infections, seizures, kidney failure or arthritis.”

Shigella spreads when infected fecal matter enters the mouth or the nose, according to the CDC. That can happen during sexual activity, but also because of poor hand-washing after diaper changes, unsanitary food handling or swimming in contaminated water.


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