South Dakota State News Web
Dr. Lon Kightlinger, South Dakota Department of Health
PIERRE, S.D. ñ South Dakota has reported 54 cases of shigellosis so far in 2006, with 24 of those cases coming since June 1. A total of 131 cases were reported for all of 2005.
ìShigellosis is a fairly common bacterial disease affecting the intestinal tract. The single most important preventive measure for shigellosis is careful hand-washing after using the toilet,î said Dr. Lon Kightlinger, State Epidemiologist for the South Dakota Department of Health.
Dr. Kightlinger said the majority of recent cases have been in south central South Dakota in the counties of Todd, Tripp, Bennett, Shannon, Gregory, Charles Mix and Mellette. Most of the cases have been children in day care and their families. The median age of the cases is 5 years old and the range is 1 to 53 years. Half are male and half female and 87% are American Indian, 8% white, and 5% race unknown.
Shigella germs are found in the intestinal tract of infected people who in turn may contaminate food or water. The shigella germ is spread by eating or drinking contaminated food or water or by direct contact with an infected person.
Mild or severe diarrhea, often with fever and traces of blood or mucous in the stool, are the primary symptoms of shigellosis, although some may have no symptoms. Symptoms usually appear within two to three days of exposure.
Kightlinger said people with active diarrhea or those who are unable to control their bowel habits should be isolated to prevent the spread of shigellosis. Most infected people may return to work or school when their diarrhea ceases, provided that they carefully wash their hands after toilet visits. Food handlers, children and staff in day care, and health care workers should be excluded until two stool specimens test negative for the bacteria.
For more information about shigellosis, see the departmentís web site at www.state.sd.us/doh/Pubs/shigello.htm.