Guam health officials are reporting an outbreak of shigellosis. Ten cases have been reported so far in 2019, compared with 29 cases reported in all of 2018, according to The Department of Public Health and Social Services (DPHSS)

Guam map Image/CIA
Guam map

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.

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.

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent Shigellosis; however, the following precautions can help you reduce your risk of getting Shigellosis:

• Carefully washing your hands thoroughly with soap during key times:

  • Before eating.
  • After changing a diaper or helping to clean another person who has diarrhea.

• If you care for a child in diapers who has Shigellosis, promptly get rid of the soiled diapers in a lidded, lined garbage can. Wash your hands and the child’s hands carefully with soap and water immediately after changing the diapers. Any leaks or spills of diaper contents should be cleaned up right away.

• Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes, or untreated swimming pools.

• Avoid sexual activity with those who have diarrhea or who recently recovered from diarrhea.