July 6, 2011
The Texas Department of State Health Services is urging residents of Maverick County to take precautions to control the spread of shigellosis, a diarrheal illness.
There has been a higher than usual number of cases of this illness in Maverick County. More than 50 cases of diarrheal illness caused by the bacterium Shigella have been confirmed in May and June. This number is twenty-five times higher than the usual number of cases reported during this time each year. Most cases have been in school-aged children, but infants and adults have also been infected.
Shigella is highly contagious and is passed person to person by a fecal-oral route. Infection can occur by hand-to-mouth contact with stools from a sick person, eating contaminated foods or drinking contaminated water.
Symptoms of shigellosis include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Blood may sometimes be present in the stool. Some individuals may have mild or no symptoms but may still pass the bacteria on to others. Most people with shigellosis will recover on their own, but some may require fluids to prevent dehydration. Infected people may be contagious for up to four weeks after the diarrhea stops.
Precautions to prevent infection include:
- Always wash hands with soap and water after using the bathroom and changing diapers.
Persons with diarrhea should be especially careful to wash hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the risk of spreading the infection
- Always wash hands before preparing food for yourself or others and before eating.
- Avoid swallowing lake or pool water while swimming.
- Persons with diarrhea should avoid swimming in public pools or lakes, sharing baths with others.
- Those with shigellosis or other diarrheal illnesses should not attend school or child-care centers or work in food-handling establishments.
- If you think someone in your family has a shigella infection, visit your medical provider promptly.
For additional information about shigellosis from the Centers for Disease Control &
Prevention, visit www.cdc.gov/nczved/divisions/dfbmd/diseases/shigellosis/
(News Media Contact: Christine Mann, DSHS Assistant Press Officer, 512-776-7511.)
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