Rantz: Homeless fecal matter behind explosion of Shigella cases in Portland

Jan 2, 2024, 5:55 PM | Updated: Jan 3, 2024, 10:21 am

Portland shigella homeless...

Homeless in Portland (Photo courtesy of born1945/flickr)

(Photo courtesy of born1945/flickr)

Homeless people are spreading Shigella in and around downtown Portland, Oregon. Cases are now surging and could lead to a public health emergency.

Shigella is a highly contagious bacteria that spreads through fecal matter. It’s usually spread when the bacteria is on someone’s hand and then they touch their mouth, or through sex. The Portland metro saw at least 218 cases of shigellosis in 2023, with 45 cases in December alone. Many of them occurred in Old Town.

Now, public health officials are asking the public to be mindful of personal hygiene.

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It’s being spread during sex amongst homeless

As cases rise, Multnomah County Deputy Health Officer Dr. Teresa Everson is advising the public to be alert, but not panic, as the cases are not occurring in the general public. But there’s fear in the community that that may change. The county is offering some infected homeless people free motel rooms to isolate in so they can mitigate the spread.

“These cases can occur because bathrooms, handwashing sinks and soap can be hard to access when you aren’t housed,” she told KGW-TV. “And unhoused community members are at higher risk of infectious diseases in general, as they experience poorer health than the broader public.”

Still, Everson advises people living and working in Old Town to be extra vigilant in washing hands. Though, she said most of the cases appear to be a result of sexual contact.

Symptoms of Shigella infection include diarrhea, stomach cramps fever and vomiting that can last anywhere from three to 10 days. It can be treated with antibiotics.

“I was just puking and just going to the bathroom,” a homeless man told KGW-TV.

A crisis that Portland created

Though it’s rare to see this specific kind of outbreak amongst the homeless, once it spreads, it may be hard to contain since the homeless aren’t especially hygienic with a lack of access to restrooms. But it’s a crisis of Portland’s own making. Permissive left-wing policies have allowed homelessness to explode in Portland, rendering the city unrecognizable.

In the waning months of 2023, officials finally committed to implementing a new strategy to target homelessness after public pressure forced them to accept the reality on its streets. In a long-overdue move, the city finally decided to enforce a camping ban on public property. The new policy was set to put much-needed restrictions in place, banning camping on all public property from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. and limiting it during other hours. It’s a clear message: No more overnight stays in city parks, along riverbanks or near busy streets.

But a judge stopped the ban from commencing after activist attorneys representing five homeless Portlanders sued the city. It’s part of a consistent strategy to stop any homeless policies from being enforced, with Radical Left activists fighting to keep homeless on the streets where they will now spread Shigella.

Seattle and King County experienced a similar surge in cases that were addressed in 2021 after Public Health learned that 84% of the cases hit the homeless.

Listen to The Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow Jason on X, formerly known as TwitterInstagram and Facebook.

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Rantz: Homeless fecal matter behind explosion of Shigella cases in Portland