By NewsDesk  @bactiman63

Townsville Public Health Unit is responding to a shigella outbreak at Richmond State School where there have been 12 confirmed cases.


Shigella infection is a serious form of gastroenteritis caused by a bacterium that attacks the intestines leading to diarrhea, abdominal pain or cramps and fever.

The illness is spread if you accidentally swallow the bacteria that is found in faeces, usually through not washing your hands properly after going to the toilet or changing diapers.

Townsville Public Health Unit physician, Dr Julie Mudd said additional cleaning was being undertaken at Richmond School today as it is closed for a public holiday.

Of the 12 cases, one was brought to Townsville University Hospital as a precaution and has since been discharged. The remaining 11 cases are recovering in the community.

“We are expecting a few more cases to be confirmed over the coming days but usually this infection burns itself out pretty quickly if people are careful to reduce the spread,” she said.

“The message to the community is pretty simple and that is just to make hand hygiene a priority.

“It is especially important for parents to supervise young children to make sure they are washing their hands well after going to the toilet.”

Dr Mudd said public health had written to the school, local council and spoken with doctors at the local health service to ensure they are aware the illness was circulating the community.

“If people are sick with gastro-type symptoms they should keep up fluids and seek medical advice if required,” she said.

“It is also important that people stay at home for a further 48 hours once their symptoms subside as the bacterium can be shed for a couple of days afterwards.”

Dr Mudd said Public Health was not recommending the school be closed and that the outbreak could be contained with community support.