Shigella cases continue to rise in KCMO

Posted at 10:42 PM, Sep 28, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-28 23:42:52-04

The Kansas City, Mo., Health Department said in a news release it is seeing a significant increase in the number of reported Shigella cases.

Shigella is an infectious diarrheal disease caused by bacteria. According to the KCMO Health Department, there are normally only 10 cases of Shigella per year in Kansas City. After the Health Department's news release on the spike in cases, nine more were reported just over the past weekend.

"It's a pretty awful disease to get,” said Dr. Scott Dattel, a medical doctor with Kansas City Pediatrics.

Shigella is infectious and comes with serious symptoms.

"If your child has any symptoms of explosive diarrhea, high spiking fevers, and also potential seizures, that is a medical emergency in my opinion,” Dr. Dattel said.

The KCMO Health Department stated shigellosis is transmitted by direct or indirect fecal-oral contact with a person having symptoms. Symptoms include: abdominal pain or cramps, fever, watery diarrhea, stool with blood or mucous, vomiting, fever and the urge to go to the bathroom when your bowels are empty.

Find out more about Shigella from the CDC

Most of the 150-plus cases reported to KCMO Health Department developed in elementary schools or daycares, where it’s not always easy to keep every little hand washed and clean.

Dr. Dattel’s biggest advice is extra hand washing, being aware, and asking questions.

“Talk to your daycare provider. Talk to your school system. Talk to your teachers. It's really important that schools know when a case happens, and if that school does everything in its power to make everyone aware, hopefully it will cut this out and make it go away quickly."

Here are ways to prevent Shigella or any other foodborne illness from the KCMO Health Department:

  • Wash your hands frequently, thoroughly and correctly with soap and warm water and use paper towels for drying. Educate smaller children regarding proper hand washing techniques and supervise hand washing.
  • Those infected should not prepare food or drinks for others until they have been shown to no longer be carrying the Shigella bacterium.
  • Dispose of diapers from infected children correctly. The diapers should be put in a closed-lid garbage can and then your hands should be immediately washed carefully with soap and water, as well as the child’s after changing or disposing of the diapers. Diaper changing areas should be disinfected with household bleach, Lysol or bactericidal wipes, according to directions.
  • Keep children and adults with diarrhea out of swimming pools, spas, and all shared water (including bath tubs) for two weeks following the end of diarrhea.

The health department said a person infected with Shigella is infectious from the time they begin having symptoms until there is no presence of Shigella in stool. If it is left untreated, the health department said the organism can remain in stool for four weeks or more. Shigella requires an antibiotic for treatment. Patients treated with antimicrobials may have stool carriage of Shigella reduced to a few days, according to the news release from the KCMO Health Department. 

There are three different strains going around Kansas City, so it’s important to get tested to see what medicine is best.


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