Catawba County Public Health has been seeing an increased number of cases of infectious diarrhea recently, and is asking the public to be vigilant about using thorough handwashing and disinfection, especially in homes with children. Parents are also asked to keep sick children at home from school or child care, especially if they have diarrhea.


“Frequent, thorough handwashing with soap and water is the most important thing families can do to prevent the spread of disease. This is true for many diseases that make the rounds this time of year, especially among children,” said Doug Urland, Director of Catawba County Public Health.

Handwashing should be performed at key times, such as after going to the bathroom, before preparing meals and before eating, and after changing a diaper.

This recommendation follows laboratory-confirmed cases of Shigella, a highly infectious disease that can cause severe diarrhea. Catawba County Public Health is working with child care providers and schools, along with physicians and state epidemiological experts to stop the spread in the community. Because it is highly contagious in school and child care settings, state leaders work with the local health department to assist with prompt intervention measures, which may help prevent the spread of Shigella to others. This uptick is similar to what is being seen in several other counties across the state.

Symptoms of Shigella include fever, abdominal cramps, chills, headache, body aches or diarrhea. It is important for parents, caregivers and educators to watch for potential symptoms in children and in other people in the home. Anyone with symptoms should stay home from school, child care and out of other group settings, and should not go to work, especially if they are in foodservice or healthcare settings. For kindergarten-age and younger children, it is recommended that parents take children with symptoms to their medical provider for evaluation and possible testing. Older children may return to school 48 hours after symptoms resolve.

“We will continue to closely monitor this situation and work with community partners and state epidemiology staff to stop the spread of Shigella in our community,” said Urland. “We are also depending on families to help these efforts by keeping sick children out of school or child care and to seek medical evaluation if they suspect an infection.”