The Enid News and Eagle
By Scott Fitzgerald Staff Writer
Garfield County and Oklahoma State Department of Health officials confirmed Friday cases of a diarrhea illness known as shigellosis have been detected in two Enid childcare facilities.
Registered nurse Linda Farr, of the Garfield County Health Department, said she was “not at liberty to discuss that” when asked to identify those facilities.
Epidemiologist Laurence Burnsed, of the state Health Department, said six children were infected with the shigella bacteria at one childcare center and two were infected at a separate facility.
The eight childcare cases are believed to be the source of up to 12 more people — namely family members of the children — being infected with shigella for a total of 20 confirmed cases here, Burnsed said.
Health officials are continuing their investigation to determine the source of the bacteria.
“Our investigations attempt to identify a common source. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine where one person may have gotten it. They (investigators) are still working on that. It may not be possible to determine,” Burnsed said.
Health officials have not ordered any childcare facilities in Enid to shut down.
According to an information sheet from the Health Department, if cases of shigellosis are found in a childcare setting, the center or home should not close and parents should not transfer their children to other centers or homes. Transferring children only helps to spread the disease to other settings.
Farr said the first case of shigellosis was reported about a month ago. People infected with the bacteria take antibiotics and are removed from the childcare setting for at least 24 hours, she said.
The main symptom of shigellosis is loose or watery stools. Diarrhea often is accompanied by fever, abdominal cramping, nausea and possibly vomiting.
It is relatively common among young children and often is associated with attendance at a childcare center, according to the Health Department information sheet.
Good hygiene at the childcare center and at home is the main prevention to stop the spread of shigellosis. People should wash their hands carefully with soap after each bowel movement, change of diapers or handling any stool-soiled material.