WATE reported this morning that at least ten children in Knox County schools have become ill with Shigellosis, an illness caused by the Shigella bacterium.  Because it is easily spread in young children, the Knox County Health Department is warning parents to be aware of the signs and symptoms of Shigellosis.  As reported by WATE:

The Knox County Health Department confirmed on Thursday there are seven cases at Powell Elementary School, one at Inskip Elementary and another case involving a two-year-old.

Health officials say shigellosis isn’t just a concern for schools. It could become a problem for the community because it’s so contagious.

While shigellosis usually resolves in five to seven days, it may be several months before an affected person’s bowel habits are entirely normal. In some persons, especially young children, the elderly, and immune compromised persons, the diarrhea can be so severe that the affected person needs to be hospitalized for dehydration.

It is estimated that over 6,000 hospitalizations for shigellosis occur each year in the U.S. Complications of Shigella infection include severe dehydration, seizures in small children, rectal bleeding, and invasion of the blood stream by the bacteria. In the U.S., it is estimated that about 70 persons die yearly from shigellosis, with small children and the elderly at greatest risk of dying.

More can be learned about Shigella and Shigellosis at Foodborneillness.com.