COVINGTON, KY (FOX19) - The Northern Kentucky Health Department says Shigella cases continue to rise, and now officials are dealing with the spread of another disease.
Health department officials are asking residents to be vigilant with prevention measures, such as hand washing, staying home when sick and avoiding swimming pools.
More than 125 cases of Shigella have been reported in Boone, Campbell, Grant and Kenton Counties since April. Typically, about 25 cases are reported for the entire year.
Shigella, a bacteria that infects the bowels, causes an illness called Shigellosis, with symptoms including diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps, nausea or vomiting. Shigella primarily infects young children, since it is spread through contact with the stool of an infected person.
In addition, seven cases of Cryptosporidiosis, also known as Crypto, have been reported since June 1, with five of those coming in the last week. Typically, four cases of Crypto are reported for the entire year.
Crypto is a diarrheal disease caused by microscopic parasites. Symptoms include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps or pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. The illness often comes in waves, with individuals feeling better and then experiencing another bout.
"Shigella has been circulating in the community all summer," said Lynne M. Saddler, MD, MPH, District Director of Health. "While we have had some success in containing it through measures such as pool restrictions and education in child care centers, we continue to see new cases of the bacterial illness. On top of that, we've begun to see cases of Crypto, which has similar symptoms and is transmitted in a similar manner. With the start of school, several weeks remaining in outdoor pool season and two organisms that spread very easily from person-to-person, now is the time for us to be extra cautious about disease prevention."
The Health Department recommends the following measures:
- Wash your hands frequently, including before preparing food, after using the restroom, after changing a diaper and before and after caring for someone who is sick. Rub hands together for at least 20 seconds, and use soap and water.
- Anyone who has had diarrhea should wait for at least two weeks after feeling better before going swimming.
- Don't change diapers at poolside.
- Take frequent bathroom breaks while at the pool.
- When shopping and at other public places, utilize hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for carts when available or bring your own to use. If you notice that a public restroom is dirty, alert management.
The Health Department has taken several measures to help contain both outbreaks. Schools have been contacted with information on cleaning, prevention and diagnosis. Swimming pool operators have been educated about chlorination procedures, particularly in response to an accident, and should ask patrons to stay home when ill and not change diapers pool side. Child care centers have received guidelines for cleaning, exclusion of ill children and other assistance. Doctors' offices have been alerted to the outbreaks and asked to consider Shigella and Crypto when diagnosing patients.
For more information on Shigella and Crypto, please visit the Health Department's Web site at http://www.nkyhealth.org.