East Central Health of Georgia

East Central Health District

Cluster of Shigellosis Reported in Jenkins County

Jenkins County Health Department has reported, by laboratory confirmation, four school age children and one child less than 3 years old with Shigella bacteria. Shigellosis is a bacteria infection affecting the intestinal tract. Shigella bacteria are spread through person-to-person contact or by consuming contaminated food or water.

An initial investigation by the Jenkins County Superintendent’s office began when one child who was hospitalized was thought to have salmonella poisoning. Health officials were contacted, and it was then learned through the child’s physician that the illness was not salmonella but Shigella bacteria.

A letter was then sent home to parents advising them of the situation and precautions they should take to prevent further spread of the illness. All the children who were confirmed for having Shigella bacteria are doing well.

“The Georgia Division of Public Health has reported sporadic activity of Shigella bacteria throughout the state,” explained Pam Drake, Facility Administrator for the Jenkins County Health Department.

Symptoms of shigellosis include: diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps. Blood may sometime be present in stool. Some individuals may have mild to no symptoms but may still pass the bacteria on to others. Most people with shigellosis will recover on their own but some may require fluids to prevent dehydration.

It is recommended by health officials that the best ways to prevent the spread of Shigella bacteria are:

  • Carefully and frequently wash hands with soap and water
  • Keep young children with shigellosis who are still in diapers away from uninfected children
  • Do not prepare food or drink for other if you are carrying the Shigella bacterium
  • Observe basic food safety precautions
  • Avoid consuming inadequately treated water, particularly from lakes, streams, rivers, and ponds.

For additional information on shigellosis refer to these websites:

CDC Shigellosis Fact Sheet – www.cdc.gov/nicidod/dbmd/diseaseinfo/shigellosis_g.htm

FDBAD BUG BOOK – http://vm.cfsan.fda.gov/~mow/chap19.html

Emmitt L.Walker
Public Relations Information Coordinator