Officials: Number of people reporting Shigella-related symptoms - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Officials: Number of people reporting Shigella-related symptoms rising

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CABARRUS COUNTY, NC (WBTV) -

Health officials in Cabarrus County say the number of people reporting Shigella-related symptoms is rising "very quickly".

The Cabarrus Health Alliance is continuing to investigate Shigella-related illnesses and officials are urging everyone to be aware of the symptoms and use precautionary measures.

As of Friday, October 25: 47 people have reported symptoms and 14 of those are confirmed Shigellosis. The non-confirmed cases have symptoms but lack a lab test with a positive or negative diagnosis.

By Wednesday, October 30,  the CHA reported 21 confirmed cases and another 36 "probable" cases.

The onset of Shigella began at Bethel Elementary and has spread to CC Griffin Middle School. While all 47 people are not students or staff at those schools, they do link back to the schools in some way.

Health officials in Cabarrus County are talking with their counterparts in neighboring counties about the possibility that the outbreak will spread further.

Officials want to remind the community Shigellosis is very contagious so you need to wash your hands after using the bathroom and always before eating. A small amount of the bacteria can make you sick. Stay home if you have symptoms. Call your healthcare provider and ask them to do a stool sample to confirm your diagnosis.

"If you're sick, what you need to do is isolate yourself," warned Suzanne Knight of the CHA.  "And that means not going to work, not going to school, and not participating in activities until you are well, until you haven't had diarrhea for 48 hours, that's really key."

Fact sheets were sent home to students at Bethel Elementary last week and at CC Griffin Middle School yesterday.

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

The watery stools can be bloody. Illness usually resolves in 5 to 7 days. Those who have been sick with these symptoms should stay at home. They can return to school or work no sooner than 48 hours after symptoms stop.

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

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 you or your child have symptoms of Shigella.

Shigellosis is rarely fatal in the US, but worldwide there are an estimated 90 million cases per year, with 100,000 resulting in death, according to the World Health Organization.

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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