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‘Exposure to feces’ blamed after dozens sickened at neighborhood cookout

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – A contagious bacterial infection is to blame after more than a dozen people fell sick the day after they attended a birthday party and cookout, according to North Carolina health officials.

More than 30 people, all of whom had been spending the afternoon at the same east Charlotte apartment complex, were rushed to area hospitals Sunday, WSOC reports.

Officials say the food partygoers ate Saturday night is believed to have carried Shigella, a highly contagious bacteria found in the stool of an infected person.

“The food was pot luck, was prepared by the people that attended that event,” Mecklenburg County Health Director Gibbie Harris said. “We now know about 40 percent of the people that attended that party had been affected by what appears to be an infection cause by exposure to feces.”

Harris said that roughly 100 people attended the event, and early testing had already confirmed four cases of Shigella.

Harris added that the food itself wasn’t bad, but was likely contaminated by someone who prepared it.

Shigella symptoms, such as diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, usually set in a day or two after someone contracts the bacteria, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  There is no vaccine and it usually takes five to seven days for a sick person to recover.

For more information about Shigella, see the CDC’s website.