CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A drug-resistant stomach bug known to spread in childcare settings is on the rise in Cincinnati, the health department said on Friday.
Shigella is a highly contagious bacteria that infects the intestine, according to the Center for Disease Control. The most common symptoms are diarrhea sometimes accompanied by bloody stool, vomiting, fever, nausea and cramps.
It is easily transferred through contaminated food, water or by a person who hasn't washed their hands after handling a diaper or using the restroom, officials say. It also spreads when a child puts contaminated objects, like food or toys, in their mouth.
Twenty cases were reported in Cincinnati during July and August. While that number may not seem like much, just one case of Shigella was reported last year in the same time period.
A drug-resistant Shigella strain has caused several outbreaks in the past year in the U.S., the CDC reports.
Though most cases are mild, it is a highly contagious illness and can spread quickly, Cincinnati health officials said.
Infections occur in children under age four and are more common in settings where children play closely together. Young children, the elderly and HIV-positive people are more likely to have severe symptoms including dehydration, bacteria in the blood and seizures.
"Teaching and supervising hand washing is the single most important step caregivers can take to prevent infection," said Patrick Burke, CHD epidemiologist.
To keep the numbers low, CHD is working with day care centers in the city to ensure they have the tools and knowledge they need to control the spread of Shigella.
The Health Department urges caregivers to remember:
- Children sick with diarrhea or vomiting should not attend daycare; caregivers should call their health care provider.
- Wash hands frequently, especially after handling diapers, before preparing food or feeding and before eating.
- Teach children to use soap and warm running water for 20 seconds.
- Monitor young children to ensure adequate handwashing.
- Disinfect surfaces that may come in contact with feces and shared toys frequently according to the product manufacturer’s instructions.