The Douglas County Health Department has released a statement saying that 50 cases of Shigella sonnei have occurred since May. Four of those patients have been hospitalized. Douglas County includes the city of Omaha.
In eight out of the last nine years, that county had 31 or fewer cases. Forty-one percent of the cases occurred in children under the age of five, and 29% were children between the ages of five and nine. Sixty-two percent of the cases have been associated with child care settings.
Health Director Dr. Adi Pour said, “hand washing is absolutely critical two controlling any disease that involves diarrhea. It is especially important to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after changing diapers or using the bathroom, since it takes only a small exposure (about 100 bacteria) to pass along the disease.”
Symptoms of shigellosis, the disease caused by the Shigella bacteria, including loose, watery stools with no other symptoms to bloody diarrhea with fever and cramps. Symptoms begin 1 to 3 days after exposure.
To prevent the spread of the disease, people with diarrhea should stay home until at least 24 hours has passed after the symptoms end. Anyone with diarrhea should not prepare or serve food or drink for others. People who have been sick should not swim in pools or bodies of water until they have completely recovered.