New Mexico Department of Health investigating Shigella outbreak

Published: Jan. 13, 2017 at 4:53 PM CST
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The New Mexico Department of Health is investigating an outbreak of Shigella in the southeastern part of the state.

According to NMDOH, cases have been reported in Lea, Chaves, and Eddy counties and the number of reported cases has risen from 140 in November to 196 currently.

Shigellas is a 'extremely contagious bacterial disease that causes diarrhea, fever, nausea, and sometimes vomiting, cramps, and blood poisoning from toxins produced by the bacteria,' NMDOH reports.

According to NMDOH most outbreaks were reported among preschool and school-aged children, though it can affect the wider community.

Shigella can be spread in the following ways, according to NMDOH:

· Infected persons can spread Shigella by not washing their hands after going to the bathroom and then handling food that other people will eat.

· Caretakers can become infected by changing the diaper of an infected child or caring for an infected person. The caretaker’s hands may get some small amount of stool and bacteria on their hands, and without proper hand hygiene, spread the bacteria to everything they touch afterwards (including their mouths).

· Swallowing recreational water (for example a splash pad, pool, and/or lake) that was contaminated by infected fecal matter.

· Exposure to feces through sexual contact.

“If your child is sick, please do not take your child to daycare or school. This will only spread this illness to other children and their families,” advises Department of Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher in a press release. “If you think that your child may have Shigella, please take them to their healthcare provider to be tested.”

The following are methods of preventing catching Shigella:

· Washing your hands frequently, especially after using the bathroom, changing a diaper, or before preparing and/or eating food.

· Promptly cleaning possible contaminated surfaces with household chlorine bleach-based cleaners.

· Washing soiled clothing and linens.

· Avoiding food or water from sources that may be contaminated.

· Not sending sick children to school, daycare, or local pool and splash pads if they have persistent diarrhea.

More information on Shigella can be found online


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