In 2013, the state of Indiana reported approximately 100 cases of the gastrointestinal bacterial infection, shigellosis. This year, state health officials say that number is more than 1,000.
Every year, about 14,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Shigellosis has a cyclical trend, so we would expect to see an overall increase in cases some years,” said State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams, M.D., M.P.H. “This year, we have seen a strong association with younger children, which has helped drive the outbreak and significantly increased the number of cases.”
According to the Indiana State Department of Health, 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.
Children who attend school and daycare need to be symptom free and treated with appropriate antibiotics or have two negative tests before returning to school. Adults who have shigellosis and work in food service or health care settings should not attend work while symptomatic.
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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