Wed, Jun. 22, 2005
MOST ARE YOUNG CHILDREN IN DAY-CARE CENTERS
By Barbara Isaacs
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER
Some Lexington day-care centers are still experiencing new cases of shigellosis, a form of dysentery that causes diarrhea, vomiting and fever, the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department reported yesterday.
As of Monday, 55 cases had been confirmed in the county.
Earlier in the month, as of June 2, there were 22 cases. The 33 new cases have occurred mostly among children ages four and under. Forty-nine of the cases have been associated with 10 day-care facilities in Fayette County.
“I don’t think we’re out of the woods yet,” said T.J. Sugg, regional epidemiologist for the Lexington-Fayette County Health Department, who has been investigating the outbreak. Initially the number of cases seemed to taper off, but there’s been a recent surge in new cases, Sugg said.
Anyone who experiences shigellosis symptoms should seek medical care and have their stool tested for shigella. Symptoms of shigella infection include diarrhea, often bloody diarrhea, fever, nausea, vomiting and cramps. The illness usually begins a day or two after exposure and lasts five to seven days. Shigella bacteria remain in the stool for up to two weeks after the illness.
The best way to prevent shigella infection is with frequent and careful hand washing with soap and warm water, Sugg said. He also said that children with diarrhea should be kept home from day care; people with diarrhea should also avoid preparing foods for others. Shigellosis is caused by fecal bacteria that enters the mouth.
The health department is not identifying the affected day-care centers, but Sugg said that the department has given guidelines to the centers about how to properly disinfect to prevent further transmission.