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Lots of hand washing urged following outbreak of Shigella here

Parents and guardians of students enrolled in Grady County Schools were alerted late last week to an outbreak of Shigella at at least two local schools.
According to Grady County Nurse Manager Peggy Connell of the Grady County Health Department and Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard, there have been a total of six laboratory confirmed cases of Shigella here, five of which are among school-aged children. Public Health officials report there are also 12 probable cases in Grady County, all of which are school-aged children.
The confirmed cases are students who attended Northside and Southside Elementary schools, according to local officials.
Shigella bacteria infections cause diarrhea, often bloody, along with fever and stomach cramps. Shigella infections pass easily from one person to another when basic hygiene and hand washing are not adequate.
According to Mrs. Connell, disease investigators, professionals from the Grady County Health Department and the Southwest Health District are working with childcare officials to stop the infection from spreading.
Public Health officials say if a child or another family member experiences any of the symptoms, especially bloody diarrhea, vomiting, fever and stomach cramps they recommend:
• Do not use Lomotil, Imodium or similar over-the-counter medications for diarrhea, which will worsen the illness. The only exception is at the recommendation of a healthcare provider.
• Seek advice from a healthcare provider in the medical community.
• Contact the Grady County Health Department if given a Shigella diagnosis.
• Keep children who are sick at home. Sending them back to school before they are well will allow them to possibly infect others with the disease.
Unfortunately, there is no vaccine to prevent Shigella infections, according to health officials. However, the spread of Shigella can be stopped by frequent and careful hand washing with soap. Hand washing among children should be frequent and supervised by an adult. It is especially important to make sure the area under and around the nails is clean.
Public Health officials say Shigella usually clears up in five to seven days and some people affected may not have symptoms, but may pass the bacteria on to others. That is why health officials say that good hand washing is extremely important.
People with Shigella infections should not prepare food or drink for others until they have been shown to no longer be carrying the Shigella bacterium, or if they have had no diarrhea for at least two days.
For more information contact the Grady County Health Department at 229-377-2992.

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