An outbreak of Shigellosis in a Central Missouri county has sickened more than two dozen people in the past two weeks, according to a local news report.


The Columbia/Boone County Department of Public Health and Human Services reports 25 cases of shigellosis, a gastrointestinal infection caused by the bacterium, Shigella. Health Department spokeswoman Andrea Waner said the department has averaged six cases a year for the past five years.

Most of the cases are linked to local day cares; however, the locations could not be disclosed.

Shigellosis is spread from person-to-person through the fecal-oral route. The bacteria can be transferred easily among children because of their poor hand washing habits and tendency to put things in their mouths. People can also become infected by consuming food or drinks prepared by an infected person or handling or cleaning up feces.

Symptoms usually begin 24 to 72 hours after exposure and last about four to seven days without treatment; however, severe infections may require antibiotics.

The CDC offers the following recommendations for preventing the spread of Shigella: 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 and avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes, or untreated pools.

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