Monday, March 16, 2009
Sedgwick County is seeing an outbreak of Shigella.
The cases are being reported in kids as young as 11 months old and adults as old as 39. So far health officials can't pinpoint a common thread between them or just one place where they picked the highly contagious infection.
That's why the Sedgwick County Health Department is warning people to protect themselves against this Shigella outbreak.
"We don't typically see cases in January through March so we want to head this off at the pass," said Health Department Director Claudia Blackburn.
Shigella is a bacterial infection caused by exposure to fecal matter. It is most often passed along by people not washing their hands properly, eating contaminated food or drinking or swimming in contaminated water.
Symptoms usually appear within one to four days and include bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting, and cramps and can last for up to seven days.
Since January there have been 23 cases of Shigella reported in Sedgwick County. That's more than two-thirds of cases state-wide. And compare that to only 20 cases for all of 2008.
"This is one of those thing when you start seeing those number of cases you want to get on it quickly and let the public know so they can be alert and so everything possible to prevent it," said Blackburn.
To prevent catching Shigella experts say wash your hands as much as possible, especially before eating or preapring food and after going to the bathroom or changing a diaper. Also wash all fruits and veggies before eating them.
If symptoms appear see your doctor right away.
For more information on the Shigella bacteria, click here to go to the CDC's website.