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Press Archive 2014

Columbus Shigella Outbreak -- 11.14.2012

Columbus Public Health – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, November 14, 2012

Health Commissioner recommends measures to stop the spread – washing hands and staying home when sick.

Local public health officials have been investigating an unprecedented large number of Shigella illness. Since the start of the outbreak, 771 cases have been diagnosed and are under investigation in the City of Columbus. This is the largest number of cases in any year in the last decade.

Shigella is a bacteria that causes an infection of the intestine called Shigellosis. It causes diarrhea which may be bloody, and can cause severe dehydration and hospitalization. Found in human feces, this bacteria can get on hands when using the toilet or changing diapers.  Contaminated hands spread the infection when they come into contact with food, the mouth and items such as toys.

“Hand-washing, and keeping children and adults home when they have diarrhea are the most critical steps to help stop this outbreak,” says Dr. Teresa Long, Columbus Health Commissioner. “We are seeing many of the cases at childcare centers and other places young children are in close contact during the day. Family members, childcare providers and playmates are also at risk.”

Symptoms may also include fever, nausea, vomiting, or abdominal cramps. Shigella primarily affects children under age five, but can occur in persons of all ages. Most people do not need treatment with medicine, but antibiotics are sometimes used for severe cases or to shorten the length of time a person is infected.

The following steps are critical to limiting the spread of this infection:

  • Wash hands often, especially after going to the bathroom or changing diapers, before eating, and before making food or drinks.
  • Help children wash hands after using the toilet.
  • Throw away dirty diapers in a closed lid can.
  • Disinfect diaper changing areas after each use.
  • Keep children with diarrhea out of child care.
  • Food service, health care, and child care workers with diarrhea should stay home from work.
  • Do not prepare food for others while ill.
  • If you or your child has symptoms, see a medical provider for testing and diagnosis.

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