Worth County School Closing

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A press release from the Worth County Board of Education regarding the school closing for two days next week is posted below, plus important information the school system, CDC and the local Health Department have provided regarding confirmed cases of Shigella. Be aware the school system is working very hard to prepare school facilities through precautionary measures for students’ return Wednesday and urge students/families to also follow CDC guidelines posted below:

 

Sylvester, Georgia-October 28, 2011 – All schools in the Worth County School System will be closed Monday, October 31, 2011 and Tuesday, November 1, 2011 due to increased absences of both staff and students which is affecting our instructional time.  We are encouraging increased efforts with good hand washing techniques at home.  We are taking additional cleaning precautions at our schools and continuing to work cooperatively with the local health department.

There are confirmed cases of Shigella in Worth County Schools.  Worth County School System is working cooperatively with the CDC and our local health department to break the cycle of this pathogen.  A letter was sent home with students from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) that explains what Shigella is, and also contained tips for parents on how to help curb the spread of Shigella.

Public health officials have given school administration some guidelines to help break the cycle of the bacterial infection.  The Worth County Board of Education is doing everything they have advised.  There are guidelines in place for students who are sent home with symptoms.  These guidelines will be explained when the child is picked up at the school.  Symptoms may include diarrhea, stomachache, vomiting, and fever.  The child must be free of symptoms for a minimum of 24 hours before returning to school.

Heather Greene

Public Relations Director

Worth County Schools

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Shigella

www.southwestgeorgiapublichealth.org

Shigellosis

Shigellosis is an infectious disease caused by a group of bacteria called Shigella. Most who are infected with Shigella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps starting a day or two after they are exposed to the bacteria. The diarrhea is often bloody. Shigellosis usually resolves in 5 to 7 days. Persons with shigellosis in the United States rarely require hospitalization. A severe infection with high fever may be associated with seizures in children less than 2 years old. Some persons who are infected may have no symptoms at all, but may still pass the Shigella bacteria to others.

Treatment

Persons with mild infections usually recover quickly without antibiotic treatment. However, appropriate antibiotic treatment kills Shigella bacteria, and may shorten the illness by a few days. The antibiotics commonly used for treatment are ampicillin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (also known as Bactrim* or Septra*), ceftriaxone (Rocephin*), or, among adults, ciprofloxacin. Some Shigella bacteria have become resistant to antibiotics. This means some antibiotics might not be effective for treatment. Using antibiotics to treat shigellosis can sometimes make the germs more resistant. Therefore, when many persons in a community are affected by shigellosis, antibiotics are sometimes used to treat only the most severe cases.

Antidiarrheal agents such as loperamide (Imodium) or diphenoxylate with atropine (Lomotil) can make the illness worse and should be avoided.

How it spreads

The Shigella bacteria pass from one infected person to the next. Shigella are present in the diarrheal stools of infected persons while they are sick and for up to a week or two afterwards. Most Shigella infections are the result of the bacterium passing from stools or soiled fingers of one person to the mouth of another person. This happens when basic hygiene and hand washing habits are inadequate and can happen during certain types of sexual activity. It is particularly likely to occur among toddlers who are not fully toilet-trained. Family members and playmates of such children are at high risk of becoming infected.

Shigella infections may be acquired from eating contaminated food. Contaminated food usually looks and smells normal. Food may become contaminated by infected food handlers who forget to wash their hands with soap after using the bathroom. Vegetables can become contaminated if they are harvested from a field with sewage in it. Flies can breed in infected feces and then contaminate food. Water may become contaminated with Shigella bacteria if sewage runs into it, or if someone with shigellosis swims in or plays with it (especially in splash tables, untreated wading pools, or shallow play fountains used by daycare centers). Shigella infections can then be acquired by drinking, swimming in, or playing with the contaminated water.

Prevention

Currently, there is no vaccine to prevent shigellosis. However, the spread of Shigella from an infected person to other persons can be stopped by frequent and careful hand washing with soap. Frequent and careful hand washing is important among all age groups. Hand washing among children should be frequent and supervised by an adult in daycare centers and homes with children who have not been fully toilet trained.

If a child in diapers has shigellosis, everyone who changes the child’s diapers should be sure the diapers are disposed of properly in a closed-lid garbage can, and should wash his or her hands and the child’s hands carefully with soap and warm water immediately after changing the diapers. After use, the diaper changing area should be wiped down with a disinfectant such as diluted household bleach, Lysol* or bactericidal wipes. When possible, young children with a Shigella infection who are still in diapers should not be in contact with uninfected children.

Basic food safety precautions and disinfection of drinking water prevents shigellosis from food and water. However, people with shigellosis should not prepare food or drinks for others until they have been shown to no longer be carrying the Shigella bacterium, or if they have had no diarrhea for at least 2 days. At swimming beaches, having enough bathrooms and handwashing stations with soap near the swimming area helps keep the water from becoming contaminated. Daycare centers should not provide water play areas.

Is shigella common?

Every year, about 14,000 cases of shigellosis are reported in the United States. Because many milder cases are not diagnosed or reported, the actual number of infections may be twenty times greater. Shigellosis is particularly common and causes recurrent problems in settings where hygiene is poor and can sometimes sweep through entire communities. It is more common in summer than winter. Children, especially toddlers aged 2 to 4, are the most likely to get shigellosis. Many cases are related to the spread of illness in child-care settings, and many are the result of the spread of the illness in families with small children.

It is important for the public health department to know about cases of shigellosis.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention