Contact: Collette DuValle, 317-373-2391
The Marion County Health Department is asking local residents to remain vigilant in helping to reduce and eliminate the on-going outbreak of Shigella. Since the outbreak began last September, more than 260 confirmed cases have been reported. More than 40 new cases have been reported this month.
Shigella is a common, highly contagious infection transmitted primarily from person-to-person through the fecal-oral route. Outbreaks can occur in areas where large groups of people gather. The risk of becoming ill with Shigella and passing it to others can be greatly reduced through constant and thorough hand washing.
The usual symptoms are diarrhea associated with cramping, abdominal pain, chills, a feeling of illness, headache and fever. The diarrhea often contains blood and mucus.
Shigella information letters have been sent to schools, day care centers, preschools, hospitals and other health care facilities. In addition, the health department has distributed nearly 30,000 hand washing coloring books and more than 2,000 hand washing posters to schools, day care centers, preschools, hospitals and other health care facilities.
Public health nurses are visiting large day care centers to discuss hand washing and to answer questions about Shigella and its prevention. Phone calls are being made to mid-sized day care centers to answer questions and make health department resources available if needed.
The health department will promote hand washing through educational messages appearing on IndyGo busses during the next two months.
The general public can help end the Shigella outbreak by practicing constant and thorough hand washing. Those with Shigella symptoms should refrain from going to school, work or other places where large groups of people congregate.
For more information about Shigella, contact the Marion County Health Department at (317) 221-2117.