State health officials warning about bacterial infection reports

INDIANA – Parents should be concerned but not worried about a recent slew of shigella cases reported by the Marion County Health Department.
As of March 3, 2014,more than 300 ill individuals have been identified and roughly 260 of that number tested positive for Shigella sonnei. No cases have been reported so far in Marshall County or Saint Joseph County; however, there have been cases found in Hendricks County and in parts of Michigan.
Shegellosis is a highly contagious batercial diarrheal sickness transmitted through the fecal matter into the digestive system.
“It can be transmitted by handling or cleaning up stool or vomit,” said Registered Nurse for Marshall County Health Department Susan Lechlitner.
According to Lechlitner, the illness can be transmitted by consuming food or drinks that have been prepared by someone who is infected, as well as sexual contact that involves feces, and person-to-person contact and with contaminated objects.
Symptoms will generally appear between one to five days after a person has been exposed, and include diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea, and vomiting. If antibiotic treatment steps are not taken, those with the infection can still transmit the bacteria up to a month after symptoms have cleared up.
“It generally starts in a day care and can spread very quickly, because of changing a baby’s diapers,” explained Lechlitner. “One child can get sick and spread it. And in age it varies. It also depends on a person’s hand hygiene.”
A strong indication of shigellosis is if diarrhea persists more than 24 hours or there is bloody stool, Those concerned should seek treatment, according to the Indiana State Department of Health’s website.
“Children with diarrhea should be sent home and stay home until they’re feeling better,” recommended Lechlitner. “Food handlers should do the same thing, but many don’t because they need the money, and they can’t afford to take the work off, or they can’t afford the doctor. It’s a catch-22.”
The Indiana State Department of Health recommends that shigellosis can be prevented by washing hands with soap and water after using the restroom, if assisting someone with diarrhea and vomiting, after swimming as the bacteria can be transmitted in pools and bodies of water contaminated with fecal matter, and before, during, and after food preparation.
Individuals that have diarrhea and/or vomiting should limit contact with others, not attend work, day care facility, or school to avoid transmittal of the sickness, and those involved in food preparation who have diarrhea should not handle food.