JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Shigellosis. Just the name sounds bad. The way it makes people feel is even worse.
The Arkansas Department of Health says the infectious disease, which causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps, is on the rise in Northeast Arkansas.
Shigellosis is caused by the Shigella bacteria and is very contagious. It is spread through bacteria-infected stool, both while people have diarrhea and for up to two weeks after the diarrhea has ended.
The ADH says exposure to even a "tiny amount" of contaminated fecal matter can cause infection.
Most people who are infected develop symptoms a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms can last an average of five to seven days. Some people who have Shigellosis may not have symptoms, but they can still pass the bacteria to others.
"When we have an outbreak of cases, you would want to pay more attention to your symptoms," Dr. Shane Speights, Dean of NYIT College of Osteopathic Medicine, said. "But remember, spring break is actually going to help us on that because the kids are out of school and so basically the chance of transmission goes down because it's transmitted from person to person."
Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent Shigellosis, but the ADH suggests taking the following precautions to reduce the risk:
- Carefully wash hands thoroughly with soap before eating, after changing a diaper or helping to clean another person who has diarrhea.
- Promptly get rid of soiled diapers in a lidded, lined garbage can. Any leaks or spills of diaper contents should be cleaned up right away.
- Avoid swallowing water from ponds, lakes, or untreated swimming pools.
- Avoid sexual activity with those who have diarrhea or who recently recovered from diarrhea.
Speights said since it is a bacterial disease, it can be treated with antibiotics.
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