Shigella Infections On The Rise In Texoma

Sandy Cadena owns a small day care center in Texoma and she says she's concerned about Shigellosis spreading among her kids.

Shigellosis is caused from Shigella bacteria, and every year, about 14,000 cases of the highly contagious intestinal infection are reported in the United States. In Wichita Falls, it's on the rise.

It's most common in young children ages 2 to 4, but you shouldn't take the warning lightly.

"The threat about it is if it's not taken care of immediately then you have a full blown problem and... if everyone comes down with it then you have to shut your building down," Cadena said.

A Health Department official says they're taking preventative measures to slow the spread of the infection, and so far, their efforts have helped. They visited day care centers in the surrounding area, and warned day care owners of the risks of the infection. They gave them a letter with tips and pointers on how to deal with the outbreak and what to do if their kids are diagnosed.

Of all their instructions, they said, it's most important that parents keep their kids home if they have the infection - even if they have diarrhea at all. Play it safe and keep them away from other children so it doesn't spread further.

If you have young kids at home, make sure you know the signs. The symptoms include severe diarrhea (often bloody), painful stomach cramps, nausea and vomiting, high fever, loss of appetite, and painful bowel movements.

These symptoms last one week on average, but can extend to 10 days. Even after that 10 day mark though, you can still be contagious.

Unfortunately, there's no way to rid yourself of the infection altogether (in fact, you're powerless with hand sanitizer alone because the alcohol in it cannot take on the bacteria). In order to prevent it, just get back to the basics - intense hand washing with soap and water for about 20 seconds. Also be mindful to wash your hands when changing the diapers of babies who are infected, because it can be transferred through stool.

Sandy says, teach your kids the proper way to wash their hands. It is vital.

Doctors say it only takes 10 Shigella bacteria to cause the infection. That means it can spread easily and quickly within families, day cares, schools and even nursing homes.

Brittany Glas, Newschannel 6