Shigellosis cases in Indiana soar past 1,000 this year

Indiana has seen more than 10 times as many shigellosis cases this year compared with 2013.
Indiana has seen more than 10 times as many shigellosis cases this year compared with 2013. | Contributed photo

Indiana health officials said Tuesday that they continue to see a rise in shigellosis cases in the state.

Approximately 100 cases of shigellosis were reported by this time in 2013; this year's rate stands at more than 1,000 cases.

Shigellosis is spread through the fecal-oral route. Children are especially susceptible because they are still learning how to wash their hands and still put random objects into their mouths. People also can become infected by consuming food or drinks prepared by an infected person or by handling infected feces.

“Shigellosis has a cyclical trend, so we would expect to see an overall increase in cases some years,” Dr. Jerome Adams, the state's health commissioner, said. “This year, we have seen a strong association with younger children, which has helped drive the outbreak and significantly increased the number of cases.”

Symptoms of shigellosis include fever, diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramping. Symptoms typically appear 24 to 72 hours after infection. The illness typically lasts four to seven days without treatment. Antibiotics are needed to treat more-severe cases.

Sometimes symptoms do not appear even though the infection is present in the carrier’s body; such carriers are still contagious.

Health officials advise people to visit their physicians and get tested for shigellosis if they experience diarrhea or vomiting. It is wise to remain hydrated throughout the illness.

Doctors recommend washing hands as the best way to avoid contracting the disease.

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Indiana State Department of Health

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