Shigella Information

In mid-October, 2013, the Communicable Disease Department at Cabarrus Health Alliance began investigating a cluster of stomach illness occurring at one Elementary School.  The disease has since spread throughout the county.  Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Shigella. This bacterium can spread very quickly because it only takes a very small amount of bacteria to make someone sick. Preventing the spread by thoroughly washing hands especially under your fingernails is fundamental, particularly after using the bathroom and before eating. 

Most people who are infected with Shigella develop watery stools, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria. The watery stools are often bloody.

The following actions can help limit the spread of Shigella infection: 
 
  • Students who have been sick with these symptoms should stay at home. They can return to school no sooner than 48 hours after symptoms stop
  • Teach children to practice good hand washing with soap and warm water, after using the bathroom and before eating. Washing under the fingernails is important as well.
  • Contact your health care provider if you believe your child has symptoms of Shigella
 
If you have further questions, call your child’s health care provider or the Cabarrus Health Alliance at 704-920-1213.

Thank you for helping us to control communicable illness in Cabarrus County.

What is Shigellosis?
Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella.

What are the symptoms of Shigellosis?
Most who are infected with Shigella have frequent watery stools, fever, and stomach
cramps, starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria. The watery stools can
be bloody. Illness usually resolves in 5 to 7 days.

What is the treatment for Shigellosis?
Drink lots of fluids to stay hydrated. If symptoms worsen or last more than 1 week, notify
your health care provider.
 
 
Is Shigellosis preventable?  Yes
 
  • Keep children with diarrhea out of school and child care settings.
  • Wash hands with soap carefully and frequently, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, before preparing foods or beverages, and after changing diapers.
  • Supervise hand washing of toddlers and young children after they use the toilet.
  • Do not prepare food for others while ill with diarrhea
  • Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes, or untreated pools. 

 For those with children in diapers 
  • Dispose of soiled diapers properly
  • Disinfect diaper changing areas after using them.

For more information visit the Centers for Disease Control's website.