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Metro Newsroom

Shigellosis Cases Have Increased

Thursday March 2, 2006

More than 100 people infected since August

There has been a significant rise in the number of shigellosis cases in Louisville. In the seven-month period from August 2005 through February 2006, there have been 107 shigellosis cases compared to an average of 8 cases for the same seven-month period in 2004 and 2005.

Most of the cases are being seen in children between 2 and 9 years of age in schools and day care centers.

Shigellosis is a highly contagious disease that is caused by bacteria. Its symptoms include diarrhea, fever, nausea, abdominal cramping, and vomiting. In severe cases there may be blood or mucus in the stool.

The bacteria can pass from one person to another when hands, food, or objects such as toys, contaminated with stool or feces are placed in the mouth. People who don’t wash their hands thoroughly, even under the fingernails, after having a bowel movement, may spread the disease.

In 1996 Louisville was confronted with a major shigellosis outbreak that eventually saw 1,030 people suffer from the disease.

The most effective way to prevent the spread of shigellosis is to wash your hands.

Anyone showing symptoms of shigellosis should see a doctor. Because the disease is highly contagious, children displaying shigellosis symptoms should be kept out of school, day care, or camp until they have been treated with antibiotics for 24 hours and no longer have diarrhea. People who work with food should take the same precautions.

In order to avoid disease and to prevent another epidemic of shigellosis it is extremely important that children, parents, and day care providers wash their hands with soap and hot water

  • After each bowel movement
  • After helping a child use the toilet
  • After handling items that may be soiled by stool, such as diapers
  • Before preparing or eating food.