CINCINNATI — Hamilton County has seen more than double the average number of cases of the highly contagious gastrointestinal illness Shigellosis this year, according to health officials.
“We haven’t seen numbers like this since 2007,” said Patrick Burke, an epidemiologist with the Cincinnati Health Department, in a statement issued Monday.
The most common symptom of Shigella infection is diarrhea, sometimes accompanied by vomiting, fever, nauseau and bloody stool. Symptoms usually last 4-7 days, but a person can remain contagious for up to 2 weeks.
And the reported cases are only a fraction of all infections, officials said.
“Many people who get Shigellosis do not need medical treatment, so those infections go unreported,” said Craig Davidson, director of epidemiology at Hamilton County Public Health.
Health officials offered these guidelines for preventing the spread of this highly contagious illness:
> Wash hands frequently, especially after handling diapers, before preparing food or feeding, and before eating.
> Teach children to use soap and warm running water to wash hands for at least 20 seconds.
> Monitor young children to ensure adequate hand washing.
> Disinfect surfaces and toys that may come in contact with stool.
Officials also emphasized that children with diarrhea or vomiting should not attend a daycare facility, and parents should consult a health care provider for full instructions on how to treat and re-introduce the child into school.