August 14, 2022

Shigella Outbreak in Nelson and Hardin Counties, KY

A Shigella outbreak in Nelson and Hardin Counties, Kentucky, has been confirmed by Donny Gill, Harm Reduction Manager at the Lincoln Trail District Health Department.  Just over 50 cases have been reported to the health department. Most of those sickened are children. The source “has been determined to be a Nelson county daycare center,” according to Mr. Gill. That daycare has not been named.

Shigella bacteria

Mirna Chamorro, Public Information Officer at the Florida Department of Health, Seminole County, also confirmed the outbreak. She said that letters were sent to parents to provide general information on Shigella and to let parents know that if their children have symptoms, keep them at home until 48 hours after symptoms have passed.

Mr. Gill told that people most at risk for this type of infection are children under the age of five. This infection is spread through fecal matter, and through contact with contaminated surfaces or a liquid, such as pool water. Chlorine and other chemicals in pool water do not immediately kill Shigella bacteria.

To prevent the spread of this pathogenic bacteria, the public can take steps. Always wash hands with soap and water, especially after using the bathroom or changing diapers. And wash them before you prepare food, serve it to others, or eat.

If anyone in your family has diarrhea, see your doctor. Shigella can be treated with antibiotics. If your child is sick with a diarrheal illness, do not go to school, community events, church, or any other public gathering until they are well. If someone in your family is diagnosed with Shigella, they should not attend school or daycare until two negative stool specimens 24 hours apart, and 48 hours after completing a round of antibiotics, have been taken.

Facilities such as churches and schools can also prevent the spread of shigellosis. Post hand washing signs in bathrooms and food areas and remind employees that this step is critical to preventing illness. Clean bathrooms several times a day with a solution of bleach and water, making sure to clean sink faucets and door knobs. Paper towels are best for drying hands in restrooms. Never dilute soap solutions, and make sure that all sinks are provided with soap. Water fountains should also be cleaned several times a day. Ban anyone with diarrhea from public pools and spas. And anyone who is sick with diarrhea should be asked to stay home.

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