In a follow-up report from Winnebago County, Ill, the shigellosis outbreak that began in Oct. 2015 has grown to 152 cases and according to Todd Kisner, Interim Director for Center of Health Protection and Promotion, health officials continue to see four cases weekly and fears that number may increase.


The majority of these cases are isolated and have impacted in children in daycare and elementary schools.

The outbreak has prompted the formation of a Shigellosis Task Force, and members of the Winnebago County Health Department (WCHD) met with community stakeholders that represented schools, daycares, hospitals and community organizations to get an update on the situation and come up with ideas to stem the outbreak.

The recommendations from the Task Force include: 1) increase handwashing in the community, and 2) ensure compliance with hand washing recommendations. “Keeping hands clean is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands thoroughly with soap and clean, running water,” said Winnebago County Health Department Public Health Administrator, Dr. Sandra Martell.

Shigellosis is a diarrheal disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Symptoms typically start 1 to 2 days after exposure and include: diarrhea (sometimes bloody), fever, vomiting and abdominal pain.

Shigella is very infectious and spread by contaminated hands touching your food or mouth. Hands can become contaminated through a variety of activities, such as touching surfaces (e.g., toys, bathroom fixtures, changing tables, diaper pails) that have been contaminated by stool from an infected person. Hands can also become contaminated with Shigella while changing the diaper of an infected child or caring for an infected person.