September 24, 2016

New Cases of Shigellosis in Winnebago County, Illinois

The Winnebago County Health Department in Illinois is reporting additional cases of Shigellosis in the area, bring the new total to 152 since October 2015. Most of these cases have affected children in daycare and elementary schools.

Hand WashingShigellosis is a diarrheal illness that causes diarrhea that can be bloody, vomiting, fever, and abdominal pain. Symptoms usually begin one to day days after exposure to the pathogenic bacteria, which is very infectious. The illness is spread by contaminated hands touching food or drink or your mouth. Surfaces such as toys, bathroom fixtures, diaper pails, and changing tables can become contaminated by feces from an infected person.

The epidemiologic curve has slowed. The peak of the outbreak was in late November 2015 to late December 2015. No one source has been identified in this outbreak.

To prevent the spread of this illness, increase hand washing, and make sure that compliance with hand washing is followed in schools, daycares, restaurants, and other public settings. Dr. Sandra Martell, Winnebago County Health Department Public Health Administrator said in a statement, “Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands thoroughly with soap and clean, running water.

Children and those with developmental disabilities may need some help and supervision when washing their hands. Always wash your hands before, during, and after preparing food, before eating, and before and after caring for someone who is sick. Wash our hands after using the toilet, after changing diapers, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, after touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste, and after touching garbage.

If you don’t have soap and cleaning running water handy, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has at least 60% alcohol is the next best thing. Sanitizers do not eliminate all bacteria and cannot remove visible dirt or grease.

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