Ways to Prevent Shigella

Shigella cases are on the rise in Orange County. Health officials have reported 78 cases since the beginning of this year – the majority being found in child care and school aged children. Last year, the county saw only four cases during the same time period. Washing your hands thoroughly is just one way to help prevent the spread of the bacterial infection.

Shigella can cause bloody diarrhea in humans. Other symptoms include fever, nausea and vomiting. Some people with the infection may have no symptoms at all, but they can still spread the germ to others.

Most people recover from shigellosis in 5 to 7 days on their own, but they can suffer from complications, like dehydration.

“Most cases in the county have been in the 2 to 4 age group,” Orange County Health Department spokesman Dain Weister said. “For these children, hand washing is sometimes a problem.”

Health officials also attribute the cases to the handling of contaminated areas, such as diaper changing stations. The Shigella bacteria can be present on other objects, like toys, bathroom faucet handles and doorknobs.

Any child with a diarrheal illness should not attend daycare or school until 24 hours after symptoms have resolved, according to health officials.

“Bottom line – people have to be very careful about hand washing and about cleaning surfaces,” Weister said.

The Orange County Health Department recommends the following measures to prevent the bacterial infection :

  • Wash hands with soap carefully and frequently, especially after going to the bathroom, after changing diapers, and before preparing foods or beverages.
  • Dispose of soiled diapers properly.
  • Disinfect diaper changing areas after using them.
  • Keep children with diarrhea out of child care settings.
  • Supervise handwashing of toddlers and small children after they use the toilet.
  • Do not prepare food for others while ill with diarrhea. [HealthyState.org]