Daycare centers and schools in Lubbock, Texas have reported an increase in the number of reported cases of shigellosis. Typically, only a few cases of the highly contagious bacterial infection are reported each month, but since September 1, 71 conformed cases have been reported.
Shigella is spread person-to-person, when unwashed or inadequately washed hands of an infected person touch food that is eaten by others or items which are then handled by others. Symptoms of an infection, which include fever, vomiting and stomach cramps, usually develop within one to three days of exposure and last up to seven days.
Shigellosis is highly contagious. Anyone who has it should remain at home to help prevent the spread of illness. Good hand washing is the best defense against shigellosis. Washing hands with warm soapy water for at least 20 seconds, then drying them is best way to prevent illness. If soap and water are not available, alcohol-based hand sanitizers that contain at least 60 percent alcohol are recommended. These sanitizers reduce the number of germs, but do not elimintae them.