Officials with the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County report seeing an elevated number of shigellosis cases in the first quarter of 2017.
From the beginning of the year through March, health officials report 35 shigellosis cases. This compares with five cases during the same period in 2016.
During April 2017, nearly 20 cases were reported.
In 2015, Hillsborough had a countywide outbreak of shigellosis with 216 cases reported that year. Reported cases of shigellosis in March and April 2017 are above numbers reported in the 2015 outbreak for those months.
Shigellosis is a bacterial infection caused the the bacterium, Shigella. It 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.
Because Shigella is resistant to gastric acid, a person can get infected with as little as 10 organisms.
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.
Every year, about 14,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
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