Shigellosis cases increasing among Indiana children

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 29, 2014)-- A highly contagious illness is spreading all across central Indiana and hitting children especially hard.

The State Department of Health reports a jump in shigellosis cases.

Around this time last year, there were about 100 cases statewide. This year, that number is up to more than 1,000.

“It is a cyclical trend so we do see increases periodically and then we’ve also seen increases because of the demographics that it has hit. So young school aged children,” explained Tess Gorden, an epidemiologist with the State Department of Health.

The illness is transmitted via the fecal-oral route usually due to poor hand washing hygiene. Symptoms include abdominal cramping, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea. It usually lasts four to seven days, but if it sticks around any longer or you see blood in vomiting or in the stool, you should seek medical attention immediately.

At the Day Early Learning Center off 73rd Street, officials recently sent 10 children home from one classroom after they came down with the illness. The school is being extra careful by wiping down all surfaces and toys and making sure their kids are washing their hands often.

“It’s actually one of the first things we have the children do when they’re dropped off to the classroom, they wash their hands,” said Marla Segal, director of the center.

She added that parents can also protect their kids by making sure they are properly washing their hands at home and finding out more about what their child's daycare or school is doing to protect them.

“I would also ask the childcare provider what their precautions are, how they sanitize things?" she said. “Besides washing hands you also have to sanitize those toys, clean the classroom, (and) to prevent the spread of germs.”