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Stomach illness breaks out at Cabarrus Co. elementary school

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CABARRUS COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

The Communicable Disease Department at Cabarrus Health Alliance is investigating a cluster of stomach illness occurring at Bethel Elementary School.

"At this point we know there are eight confirmed cases, but we believe this will grow because of the highly contagious nature of the bacteria," stated Suzanne Knight, Clinical Services Director.

Health officials say the school is seeing an outbreak of Shigellosis.

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria called Shigella. This bacterium can spread very quickly because it only takes a very small amount of bacteria to make someone sick.

Letters have been sent to all Bethel Elementary School parents and all Cabarrus County healthcare provider offices with the signs & symptoms, as well as, prevention tips.

"The origin of the outbreak is unknown and our focus is now educating the community so everyone with symptoms can seek the appropriate treatment from their health care provider."

According to health officials, preventing the spread by thoroughly washing hands especially under your fingernails is fundamental, particularly after using the bathroom and before eating.

Most people who are infected with Shigella develop watery stools, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria. The watery stools are often bloody.

The following actions can help limit the spread of Shigella infection:

  • Students who have been sick with these symptoms should stay at home. They can return to school no sooner than 48 hours after symptoms stop
  • Teach the child to practice good hand washing with soap and warm water, after using the bathroom and before eating. Washing under the fingernails is important as well.
  • Contact your health care provider if you believe your child has symptoms of Shigella

If you have further questions, call your child's health care provider or the Cabarrus Health Alliance at 704-920-1213.

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