According to press reports, the Escambia County Health Department has reminded the public that people can reduce the spread of gastrointestinal illnesses by practicing simple hygiene. “We like to be proactive about this, and we’ve started seeing cases of Shigella, or shigellosis, which is a bacterial illness that can produce nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and sometimes fever in young people,” said Dr. John Lanza, director of the Escambia County Health Department.

Lanza said the county usually sees three to 30 cases of Shigella a month, and this month there have been about 12 to 15 cases.

“We’re seeing this in child-care centers, and that’s where our most-vulnerable population center is — our children — and we just want child-care providers and parents to know what to look for,” Lanza said.

He said simple hygiene practices can keep gastrointestinal illnesses like Shigella at bay.

“The No. 1 way of transmitting these kind of diseases is by not washing your hands with soap and water,” Lanza said. He said it’s important to thoroughly wash hands after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling food.

Lanza had another health message: If you or your child has a gastrointestinal illness, stay home instead of spreading the germs.

“If you as an adult, or your child, are sick, for at least 48 hours, stay at home. Don’t go to work,” he said.