Health Service Region 1 News Precautions Urged in Shigellosis Outbreak in Panhandle, South Plains

Department of State Health Services

June 13 , 2005

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) is urging residents of the Texas Panhandle and South Plains to take precautions to control the spread of shigellosis, an infectious bacterial disease causing diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps.  A total of 169 cases of shigellosis have been reported in DSHS Health Service Region 1, since January 1st 2005.

"Most Shigella infections are the result of the bacterium passing from stools or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person," said Connie Lindley, regional epidemiologist in Canyon.  "Thorough hand washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of shigellosis, especially after using the restroom, before preparing or serving food or drinks, and after changing a diaper," she said.

"The infection occurs often among toddlers who are not fully toilet-trained," Lindley said.  The infection ranges in severity from a relatively mild illness with watery stools for a few days to severe symptoms including cramps, headache, high fever, profuse or bloody diarrhea and dehydration.  Those infected usually recover in five to seven days.  In severe cases the patient needs to be hospitalized.  People with symptoms of shigellosis should contact their doctor.  Some people who are infected may have no symptoms but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others.

To help prevent the spread of shigellosis:

  • Wash hands carefully and frequently with soap.
  • Dispose of soiled diapers properly.
  • Disinfect diaper changing areas after using them.
  • Keep shildren with diarrhea out of child-care settings.
  • Supervise hand washing of small children after they use the toilet.
  • Do not prepare food for others if you have a diarrheal illness.
  • Avoid drinking pool water.

Report cases of shigellosis to your local health department or to the Texas Department of State Health Services at 806-767-0319 or by fax to 806-762-8605.

(News media:  For more information contact David Dickerson, Health Service Region 1, Canyon, 806-655-7151.)




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Last updated June 7, 2010