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What's Going Around

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December 12, 2016

Whats Going Around?



During November and December this year, Hamilton County Public Health has begun investigations into three shigellosis outbreaks among daycare age residents.  Shigellosis is a diarrheal disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella.  Shigella causes about 500,000 cases of diarrhea in the United States annually.  Symptoms of shigellosis include diarrhea, fever, and abdominal pain.  These symptoms typically last about 5 to 7 days and usually resolve without antibiotic treatment.  Shigella germs are present in the stools of infected persons while they have diarrhea and for up to a week or two after the diarrhea has gone away. Shigella is very contagious; exposure to even a tiny amount of contaminated fecal matter—too small to see– can cause infection.

The spread of Shigella occurs when people put something in their mouths or swallow something that has come into contact with stool of a person infected with Shigella. This can happen when:

  • Contaminated hands touch your food or mouth. Hands can become contaminated through a variety of activities, such as touching surfaces (e.g., toys, bathroom fixtures, changing tables, diaper pails) that have been contaminated by stool from an infected person. Hands can also become contaminated with Shigellawhile changing the diaper of an infected child or caring for an infected person.
  • Eating food contaminated with Shigella. Food may become contaminated if food handlers have shigellosis. Produce can become contaminated if growing fields contain human sewage. Flies can breed in infected feces and then contaminate food when they land on it.
  • Swallowing recreational (for example lake or river water while swimming) or drinking water that was contaminated by infected fecal matter.

You can help reduce the spread of shigellosis by:

  • Keeping children out of childcare and group play settings while ill with diarrhea.
  • Supervise handwashing of toddlers and small children after they use the toilet. Wash infants’ hands with soap and water after diaper changes.
  • Dispose of soiled diapers properly, and clean diaper changing areas after using them.
  • Carefully washing your hands with soap before eating or after changing a diaper.
  • Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes, or untreated swimming pools.
  • When traveling internationally, follow food and water precautions strictly and wash hands with soap frequently.


Posted by: HCPH