The Stanislaus County Health Services Agency (SCHSA) is advising the public on proper handwashing in light of a big increase in shigellosis cases reported in 2016. In addition, they are encouraging people to stay home from work, school, or holiday celebrations if they have diarrhea.
This comes on the heels of a report that shows that 123 people in Stanislaus County have tested positive for Shigella infection, up significantly from the 19 confirmed cases of Shigella infections in 2015.
Most Shigella infections are the result of bacteria passing from improperly washed hands from one person to the mouth of another person, often through handling contaminated objects or food. Poor hand washing and hygiene (especially after changing diapers or toileting) increases the risk of infection.
“Regular and frequent hand washing with soap and running water is the single most important preventive measure to interrupt the spread of shigellosis. Everyone should thoroughly wash their hands after using the restroom or changing diapers and before eating or preparing food. People diagnosed with Shigella infection should be especially vigilant in their hand washing practices,” said Dr. John Walker, Public Health Officer.
Persons with any diarrheal illness should stay home from child care, school or group activities, and should not participate in jobs involving food preparation or healthcare until their diarrhea has resolved. Routine and thorough hand washing and cleaning of surfaces in the above settings is important to limiting the spread of the disease.
Shigellosis is a highly infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. People infected with Shigella may have fever, stomach cramping, and mild or severe diarrhea, often with traces of blood or mucus in the stool. However, some infected people may not show any symptoms at all. Symptoms occur from 1-7 days after exposure, but usually within 1-3 days, and last an average of 4-7 days.
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