NKY Health Dept. seeing rise in Shigella cases

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EDGEWOOD, KY (FOX19) - A health alert has been issued for Northern Kentucky after an outbreak of Shigella. Almost 40 cases have been reported since April 1st.

Most of the cases are associated with child care centers. The Northern Kentucky Health Department is now asking residents to maintain healthy habits, like hand washing.

And parents, just like their kids, should be washing their hands before and after using the restroom.

Be careful not to touch your face, mouth or eyes without washing your hands first.

As it gets warmer out, Shigella cases are expected to rise unless you take some simple steps to keep you safe.

"We have not had any cases of Shigella," said Kathy Donelan, the owner of Aunt Kathy's Child Care, Inc in Highland Heights. "Knock on wood!"

And make sure your kids are protected from Shigella.

"The bacteria is called Shigella," said Dr. Lynne Saddler, who is Director of Health for the Northern Kentucky Health Department. "The disease you get from it is Shigellosis."

And it's making a comeback in Northern Kentucky.

"We're seeing enough new cases," Dr. Saddler said. "We thought it was important to get the word out to folks to remind them about prevention of Shigella."

The bacteria upsets your intestines or your bowels, and causes stomach cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and fever.

"Washing your hands thoroughly after you use a bathroom, after you change diapers, before you prepare food or before you eat is always good advice all the time," Dr. Saddler said.

Start with soap and rub under warm water. Grab a clean, fresh paper towel, dry your hands, then dispose of the towel and it's all clean.

Singing happy birthday or their ABC's while they wash is a great way to get kids to scrub longer.

"We wash them when we come in the building," Donelan said. "After we go to the bathroom, after we come in from outside, blow our nose, any kind of activity that we do, we pretty much wash our hands."

Donelan takes great care to wash and sterilize everything in her daycare. Toys are immersed in warm, soapy water and scrubbed til they are cleaned and sterilized nightly.

"You scrub them with soap and water," Donelan said. And you don't have to use expensive soap, she said. Just make sure the toys are cleaned thoroughly, using bleach or another antiseptic.

"And if they have dirt on them, we scrub them off," she said. "I have a brush that I scrub them with."

Then, the toys get a thorough rinsing and are laid-out to dry.

"Then," she said. "We'll spray them with sanitizer."

The container, which held those toys, is also cleaned and sterilized.

"Number one, always wash your hands," Dr. Saddler said. "Number two, if you or your child has any of these symptoms, you need to stay home from work, stay home from school, you need to stay home from childcare."

And see your doctor.

"And make sure you stay hydrated," Dr. Saddler said. "And wash hands, wash hands, wash hands."

Your doctor can give you the test and you will need an appropriate antibiotic to treat Shigella. Health officials warn, you can carry the Shigella bacteria, shedding it in your stool, for up to 4 weeks after taking the antibiotics.

And with area pools opening soon, The Health Department warns adults, who are being treated should avoid the water and never place a child with Shigella, who's wearing a diaper, in the water.

To keep from getting Shigella, you should:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and running water after using the restroom, after changing diapers, and before preparing or eating food. This is the best way to prevent the spread of infectious diseases found in the intestinal tract, such as Shigella.
  • Do not use wading pools or water tables for groups of children, because Shigella is transferred easily in standing water.
  • Dispose of soiled diapers properly.
  • If you have diarrhea, stay home from work, school or child care until you are better. Also, do not prepare food for others while you have diarrhea. You may want to contact your doctor for testing.

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