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Metro Newsroom

Shigellosis Cases Continue to Rise

Monday January 30, 2012

Shigellosis cases continue to rise in Louisville. Last week, January 23 – 29, there were 18 laboratory confirmed cases, the highest number in any week so far during the current outbreak. There have been 84 laboratory confirmed cases in the last thirteen weeks. This compares to an average of 62 confirmed cases per year in Louisville for the past five years. Approximately half of the new shigellosis cases continue to be seen in children three years of age and younger.

Shigellosis is a highly contagious diarrhea illness caused by Shigella bacteria. Symptoms often include watery or loose stools for several days, or in more severe cases abrupt onset of fever, nausea, abdominal cramping and vomiting. In some cases there could be blood or mucous in the stool.

Humans are the only significant source for Shigella bacteria. Bacteria leave the body of an infected person through the stool and enter another person when hands, food, or objects (such as toys) contaminated with stool, are placed in the mouth.

“Everyone - particularly parents, children, childcare workers and teachers – should be washing their hands thoroughly and often,” said Public Health and Wellness director Dr. LaQuandra Nesbitt. “Hand washing is by far the most effective way to prevent shigellosis and to stop its spread. As we continue to look for cases and urge that cases be reported, we expect that shigellosis case counts may continue to rise for the near future, but with everyone’s cooperation we can get this disease under control.”

People should wash their hands carefully, including under the fingernails, with soap and water. Washing hands is especially important:

· After handling items that may be soiled by stool (changing diapers)

· After each bowel movement

· After helping children use the toilet

· Before preparing or eating food.

Department of Public Health and Wellness teams have been going out to each childcare facility that has a new case of shigellosis and to each school having more than one new shigellosis case. The teams are inspecting and evaluating areas of the facility where shigellosis is likely to spread such as bathrooms, changing tables, food preparation areas and storage areas.

The Louisville Metro Public Health and Wellness recommends that:

· Children who have an illness with fever or diarrhea should not attend day care or school.

· Persons with symptoms that could be shigellosis: diarrhea, fever, nausea, etc., should be seen by their health care provider.

· Persons with known Shigella infections should not be employed to handle food, or to provide child or patient care until at least 48 hours after antibiotic treatment is completed and two negative stool cultures, at least 24 hours apart, have been obtained.