At least three cases of a contagious illness called Shigellosis have been reported at Emerson Elementary in Joplin.

Shigellosis is a potentially serious disease caused by the shigella bacteria. Symptoms include diarrhea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. It is transmitted from person to person, hand-to-mouth contact and can be food borne if food is handled by an infected individual. (Read more about Shigellosis)

At this point school officials do not know how the bacteria entered the school, but they say there is no need for parents to worry.

Joplin Schools Superintendent C.J. Huff, PhD. says staff at Emerson are making every effort to sanitize and prevent the disease from spreading.

“We’re trying to go above and beyond,” Dr. Huff says. “Hand sanitizers in the classroom, things of that nature. Anything and everything we can think of to do to help control it, which is the biggest concern is just the spread of the illness, and trying to contain the spread of that illness so that it doesn’t become more of an issue for other kids.”

“We tend to avoid anti-diarrhea medications like Immodium or Lamodile because that can prolong a carrier state,” says Dr. Jim Riscoe of St. John’s Medical Center. “In patients that are very symptomatic, and that’s usually the very young or the very old, can require oral antibiotic therapy.”