FOX47 NEWS - Shigella Cases Spike

Jeff Angileri
Sep 18, 2008, 10:21 PM

There is a highly infectious disease spreading in Dane County. Hospitals and clinics reported 52 cases of shigella since July. There were only 7 cases reported in the same time last year.

Shigella is a nasty, highly contagious illness that can last up to a week, and it's not easy to diagnose in the exam room, according to doctors. Symptoms resemble the flu...diarrhea, stomach cramps, and fever.

Only a lab test, to identify shigella bacteria can confirm an infection. It's then treated with modern medicines.

Antibiotics do shorten the duration of the fever and they do shorten shedding of the bacteria, said Dr. Jim Nettum, at Dean Health System.

The best prevention method...a good hand washing. Most shigella cases are the result of dirty hands coming into contact with the mouth of another person. Households and group settings are particularly vulnerable.

It'll run through the community, it's rare, and there are good places to get it like daycares, nursing homes, or any kind of institutional setting, said Nettum.

More than 165 million people worldwide are diagnosed every year, and one million die from it. But cases in this country are rare.

It's not as common in the united states, simply because we have such great public sanitary sewers and things like that, Nettum said.

This disease affects people of all ages. In the cases reported in dane county, ages ranged from 3 to 63.

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