The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

November 15, 2013

Shigella hits Stanly County


Friday, November 15, 2013 — Stanly County is not immune to an illness that is hitting neighboring counties.

“There is a regional outbreak of shigella related illnesses throughout Stanly, Cabarrus, Rowan, Union, and Mecklenburg counties.  Cabarrus County has over 40 lab confirmed cases reported which is the highest number of reported cases in all these counties,” said Cindy Russell, Stanly County Health Department communicable disease nurse.  

“We want to call your attention to this outbreak as many Stanly County residents participate in activities that cross county lines. As of this week, Stanly County has had two reported cases of shigella and one probable case.”

Shigella is a highly infectious disease. Most of those that are infected with shigella develop watery stools, fever and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria, according to the health department. The watery stools are often bloody. Shigellosis usually resolves in five to seven days.

Most shigella infections result when basic hygiene and handwashing practices are inadequate. The bacterium passes from stools or soiled fingers of one person to another person, according to the health department. It is particularly likely to occur with toddlers who are not fully toilet-trained. Family members and playmates of toddlers are at high risk of becoming infected.

Shigella infections may be acquired from eating contaminated food. Contaminated food usually looks and smells normal. Food may become contaminated by infected food handlers who forget to or improperly wash their hands with soap after using the bathroom.

Stanly County Health Department staff is consulting with staff from the surrounding county health departments as well as the State Division of Public Health.   Health department staff has alerted the schools, day care centers and health care providers as to the incidence of this infectious disease.  Staff members are also informing them how to prevent the spread of this as it is highly infectious.

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent shigellosis. However, the spread of shigella from an infected person to other persons can be stopped by frequent and careful handwashing with soap. Handwashing among children should be frequent and supervised by an adult in daycare centers and homes with children who have not been fully toilet trained, the health department advises.  Other basic tips to prevent the spread of shigella include:

 Wash hands as well as under the fingernails with soap carefully and frequently, especially after going to the bathroom, after changing diapers and before preparing foods or beverages.

 Dispose of soiled diapers properly in a closed-lid garbage can.

 Disinfect diaper changing areas after using them with a disinfectant such as diluted household bleach, Lysol or bactericidal wipes.

 Keep children with diarrhea out of child care settings.

 Young children with a shigella infection who are still in diapers should not be in contact with uninfected children.

 Supervise handwashing of toddlers and small children after they use the toilet or have had their diaper changed.

 Do not prepare food for others while ill with diarrhea.

 Anyone with a diarrheal illness should stay home whether it be from daycare, school, work, church or community activities.

Anyone with further questions may call Stanly County Health Department at (704) 982-9171 or your health care provider. Information is, also, available online at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at: