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Columbus health officials are investigating what they call an "unprecedented large number of Shigella illness" in the area.
Since the start of the outbreak, 771 cases have been diagnosed.
That's the largest number of cases in any year in the last decade.
Shigella is a bacterium that causes an infection of the intestine called Shigellosis. It causes diarrhea which may be bloody, and can cause severe dehydration and hospitalization. Found in human feces, this bacterium can get on hands when using the toilet or changing diapers.
Contaminated hands spread the infection when they come into contact with food, the mouth and items such as toys.
According to the health department, hand washing and staying home when you have the symptoms are the best way to curb the spread of Shingella.
Symptoms may also include fever, nausea, vomiting or abdominal cramps. Shigella primarily affects children under 5, but can occur in persons of all ages. Most people do not need treatment with medicine, but antibiotics are sometimes used for severe cases or to shorten the length of time a person is infected.
The following steps are critical to limiting the spread of this infection:
• Wash hands often, especially after going to the bathroom or changing diapers, before eating and before making food or drinks.
• Help children wash hands after using the toilet.
• Throw away dirty diapers in a closed lid can.
• Disinfect diaper changing areas after each use.
• Keep children with diarrhea out of child care.
• Food service, health care and child care workers with diarrhea should stay home from work.
• Do not prepare food for others while ill.
• If you or your child has symptoms, see a medical provider for testing and diagnosis.
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