Hundreds of guests at five star hotels in Cape Verde have been struck down by a sickness bug.
An outbreak of shigella – a highly contagious bacterial infection affecting the intestines and digestive system – has been traced back to the isolated volcanic archipelago in the central Atlantic Ocean, which is a popular destination for winter sun.
According to a recent report by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), an increased reporting of cases has been ongoing since September 2022, “evolving rapidly” during November and December.
So far, 221 cases have been confirmed, and a further 37 possible cases recorded, in 10 countries, including the UK, the US, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
No deaths have been reported, but at least one person (in Portugal) was hospitalized as a result.
According to the ECDC, “most cases have stayed in five-star, all-inclusive hotels in the Santa Maria region of the island Sal”.
At present, it is not known which hotels have been impacted by the infection.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO)shigella is the leading cause of bacterial diarrhea in the world.
Symptoms tend to include bloody diarrhea (also known as dysentery), cramps and fever.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that the majority of people who contract the infection tend to get better in five to seven days without treatment.
In certain cases, shigella can be treated with a course of antibiotics.
There are approximately 80 to 165 million cases of shigella worldwide every year, according to the CDC.
The infection can cause severe and sometimes life-threatening complications in very young children or those with weakened immunity.
While officials aren’t sure how the outbreak has spread, the most likely cause is through contaminated food or water.
The infection can also spread from person to person through poor hygiene and even sex.
ECDC officials have suggested that there is a moderate risk of new infections emerging from the country.
The Independent has contacted the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for further comment.