Health experts said that a current Shigellosis outbreak is worse in Columbus than anywhere else in the state.
Nearly 250 cases of Shigellosis – an acute bacterial infection of the lining of the intestine – have been reported in Columbus since January.
Health experts said that they are concerned because the illness, which causes diarrhea, is fully preventable.
At the Indianola Children’s Center, children are required to wash their hands after using the restroom, before and after they eat and after sneezing.
“Lots of hand washing going on all day long,” said Anna Long, director of the children’s center. “For us, the best way to stop that chain of infection is hand washing.”
Long said that infection is especially a concern with toddlers, who notoriously put items in their mouths, so they wash the toys daily.
“We have an industrial dishwasher that reaches 180 degrees or something,” Long said.
According to Long, the center’s diaper changing table is disinfected constantly.
Dr. Mysheika Roberts, Medical Director for Columbus Public Health, said that she was concerned about the number of cases reported this year.
“Last week, in just the course of two days, we had 27 cases reported to us, so in two days, we had more cases reported than in the last two years combined,” Roberts said.
Roberts said that the disease is mild, but children are not allowed to return to daycare or school until they have had antibiotics and two tests to prove that they are free of the bacteria.
“What really concerns me is the impact it has on people’s lives,” Roberts said.
She said that the best prevention is frequent hand washing.
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