Shigella is a highly contagious and virulent bug that is commonly the culprit in outbreaks at schools and other institutional settings. Shigella outbreaks are frequently caused by the fecal-oral route, whether the route of ultimate transmission be food or contact with surfaces contaminated by the bacteria. This means that bacteria from the stool of an infected person is ingested by another person, leading to illness.
In any event, a large Shigella outbreak has occurred at Honea Path Elementary School in South Carolina. Dozens of students have fallen ill in the past several weeks, causing the principal of Honea Path Elementary School to send a letter home to parents explaining what Shigella is and the importance of good handwashing.
Officials with the State Department of Health and Environmental Control have assisted in the investigation of this outbreak, and have encouraged the school and staff, as well as parents, to recognize the ease by which Shigella can be transmitted person-to-person, and the resulting importance of good handwashing.