MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2016

HEALTH warns Rhode Islanders to beware of risk of shigella infection

The Rhode Island Department of Health recently warned the public about the risk of shigella infection after roughly 150 people contracted shigellosis, a gastrointestinal illness resulting from Shigella Sonnei bacterium.

An initial count of 134 cases of shigellosis was reported on July 4 and linked to Spring Lake Beach. The beach was closed temporarily to be tested for fecal coliform bacteria, for which results were negative, and the beach reopened. Since then, 14 additional cases of shigellosis were reported and linked to Wallum Lake and a body of water near Massachusetts this past week.

"It is important for people to know that shigellosis is being reported in northern Rhode Island," Director of HEALTH Michael Fine said. "Fortunately, good hand washing, avoiding swimming if you've been ill with diarrhea and staying home for 48 hours after you no longer have diarrhea are effective ways to help prevent the spread of shigellosis."

When infected with Shigella, most people experience fever, stomach cramps and diarrhea beginning one to three days following exposure. Most infections are mild and can last between 48 and 72 hours. Antimicrobial therapy is not required for mild cases.

HEALTH advises people to reduce their risk of developing shigellosis by minimizing their exposure to fecal matter and to avoid swimming for 48 hours if they have experienced diarrhea, including children that are not toilet trained. If a person has been diagnoses positive for shigellosis, HEALTH advises them to stay home 48 hours after diarrhea stops, to reduce the risk of passing along an infection.